Operating from RAF Brize Norton, AirTanker delivers a unique air-to-air refuelling and air transport capability to the UK Armed Forces and their global partners. AirTanker is a consortium of leading Aerospace and Defence specialists; Babcock, Cobham, Airbus Group, Rolls-Royce and Thales.

In 2008, AirTanker was appointed by the Ministry of Defence to deliver a 27-year contract for strategic air transport and air-to-air refuelling capability to the RAF through the Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA) programme.

The aircraft used is known to the RAF as ‘Voyager’ and is an adapted Airbus 330. The fleet of 14 aircraft comprises a core fleet of nine, plus a ‘surge fleet’ of a further five aircraft, which are leased to civilian airlines but on readiness for recall into military service.

Babcock plays a key role in the delivery of this high profile and high-readiness contract, with skilled teams working hard 24/7 to keep Voyager ready to depart so it can provide fuel to the UK’s Air Defence Fighter aircraft at a moment’s notice.

Infrastructure and facilities management

Responsible for the design, build and running of the AirTanker Hub, we now provide facilities management, including maintenance and cleaning, to the vast two-bay hangar that accommodates two Voyager aircraft plus associated offices and engineering workshops.     

IT services

Since inception, Babcock has provided full IT infrastructure and 24/7 service support to the AirTanker workforce around the world. This includes the provision and support of bespoke aviation applications that are required for the airline to operate.

Motor transport and ground support equipment (MTGSE)

The MTGSE team are responsible for buying and maintaining vehicles and aircraft ground support equipment. This is a challenging task with 52 variants in the fleet including vans, water bowsers, aircraft de-icing platforms, air conditioning units and 35-tonne aircraft tow tractors.   

Our mechanics provide 24-hour cover, it is vital that the team are ready to deal with any emergencies that arise, responding to breakdowns within 15 minutes. We make sure that services on the ground run as smoothly as possible and that all equipment is safe and serviceable.

Ground handling

The Ground Handling team also provide a 24/7 service managing the arrival and departure of aircraft. Working in shifts, this team is responsible for providing a host of service activities to support the see-in, turn-around and see-off of the Voyager flights. This includes aircraft marshalling, positioning of equipment and aircraft push backs. 

During winter months, the team are also responsible for ensuring aircraft are clear of snow and ice to allow for safe flying operations. When temperatures fall below a certain level, a fleet of five de-icing rigs is called into action.

At a glance:

  • 342 vehicles and items of ground support equipment in the fleet
  • 1,200 customers supported by our IT infrastructure
  • 70 planned maintenance tasks undertaken each month
  • 57 vehicles serviced each month
  • 750 calls logged on average each month with IT
  • 80 aircraft tow/push backs each month
  • 24,000 litres of water issued to Voyager aircraft each month
  • 200 refuels of diesel each month