The RAF’s 9 Lockheed L-1011 Tristars serve as the high end of their tanker fleet, and are easily recognizable by their unique 3-engine profile. These aircraft once served with British Airways and Pan-Am; these days, they are operated by No 216 Squadron at Brize Norton. The RAF’s 2 Tristar K1s and 4 KC1s can carry a total fuel load of 139,700 kg, using only one of their 2 hosedrum refueling units at any given time. Notice the above picture of a RAF Tristar refueling only one of the F/A-18Cs from the USS Ronald Reagan [CVN 76], as the 2 fighters head over to Afghanistan. The KC1s also have cargo or passenger capacity, while the K1 can carry only passengers in addition to its refueling duties. An additional set of 3 RAF Tristar KC2/KC2As carry up to 266 passengers, and do not perform refueling tasks at all.
The UK has signed the world’s largest military public/private partnership to date, in order to replace its 28 Tristars and VC10 jets with a fleet of 14 modern Airbus A330-200 MRTTs. These new FSTA tankers will begin entering full service in 2014. Meanwhile, the existing VC10 fleet is already under a full “future contracting for availability” contract, which pays for available aircraft rather than hours or spares. Until the Tristars drop out of service, they too require maintenance. Hence the GBP 97 million (about $156 million) TRistar Integrated Operational Support (TRIOS) contract, which is intended to help the RAF maintain its fleet until 2015.
The TRIOS contract was announced on Oct 29/08, and brings together Marshall Aerospace of Cambridge, UK; Flight Support Services (FSS) of Fergus, Ontario, Canada; and Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies (ADAT) of the UAE. Marshall will act as the hub for TRIOS, linking engineering, supply, aircraft maintenance and program management. Flight Support Services will act as the Prime Spares Supplier, while ADAT will deliver aircraft ‘Availability-from-Depth’ covering heavy maintenance and modification work. Both will operate under new incentivised sub-contracting arrangements, to reward the achievement of key performance targets on behalf of the UK MoD. UK MoD | Marshall Aerospace.