RAF Voyager takes to the skies for the first time since £900,000 Union flag repaint

Dominic Penna
RAF Voyager takes to the skies for the first time since £900,000 Union flag repaint - Corporal Alex Scott RAF/MoD Crown Copyright//PA

The RAF Voyager aircraft used by the Prime Minister and the royal family has returned to the skies following its Union flag makeover.

The plane helped RAF Lightning and Typhoon fighters to refuel during Exercise Crimson Ocean, a joint exercise between the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy, as shown in pictures released by the Ministry of Defence.

RAF Voyager returned to its base at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire this week after it was painted red, white and blue at Cambridge Airport.

The new-look plane was airborne for most of Friday, and once again took up its primary role of offering air-to-air refuelling - acting as a ‘petrol station in the sky’.

Voyager - an Airbus A330 jet - is also used in order to transport the Prime Minister Boris Johnson and members of the royal family to a range of official engagements abroad.

Handout photo issued by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) of the RAF Voyager used by the Prime Minister and the royal family, during its first operational tasking. - Corporal Alex Scott RAF/MoD Crown Copyright

Downing Street said that the repaint, which it confirmed cost “around £900,000”, has meant that the plane will be better placed to represent the UK around the world with “national branding”.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “That incorporates the cost of creating the design that will promote the UK around the world without compromising the plane’s vital military role.”

“At every stage we have worked to ensure value for money for the UK taxpayer and all of the work has been undertaken in the UK, directly benefiting British suppliers.”

Image shows MAcR Wellham-Jones over-seeing the refuelling on ZZ336. On June 26 the newly painted RAF Voyager ZZ336, aka Vespina, took flight on its first operational sortie after its refurbishment. - Sgt 'Matty' Matthews RAF

Voyager,  which was repurposed for use by the UK government in 2015 at a cost of £10 million, was previously painted grey, and was first used to transport then-Prime Minister David Cameron and other ministers to a Nato summit in Poland.