Perhaps the movement of the year thus far into Central Queensland was the Royal Air Force (RAF) Airbus KC2 Voyager (A330-243MRTT) ZZ330 which touched down at Rockhampton Airport on Wednesday 17 May as "Ascot 2136" direct from Hickam Field (Hickam Air Force Base) in Hawaii.
After staying for the night, ZZ330 was loaded with personnel and their cargo before departing a rain-soaked Rockhampton Airport early on Thursday 18 May as "Ascot 2137" for Brunei.
The RAF Voyager appears to have collected personnel which may have been involved with exercises with local troops in the Shoalwater Bay Training Area (SWBTA). It seems they arrived into Townsville in early April on board another RAF KC2 Voyager ZZ335.
The RAF Voyager is based on the Airbus A330-200 passenger aircraft and provides the RAF with Strategic Air Transport and Aeromedical capabilities. In addition, the Voyager is an extremely effective Air-to-Air Refuelling aircraft, which is utilised to enable a variety of RAF aircraft to operate for extended periods. It is currently flown by both No. 10 and No. 101 Squadrons based at RAF Brize Norton in England and replaced the RAF's Vickers VC10 C1K and Lockheed L1011 Tristar fleets at RAF Brize Norton.
It’s interesting to note that there are two types of RAF Voyager aircraft – the KC2 which is a two-point tanker, equipped with 1 FRL Mk32B 900E pod under each wing – and the KC3 which is a three-point tanker with an additional centre line hose for larger ‘receiver’ aircraft. It is also capable of providing transport for up to 291 personnel, while the cargo hold areas remain available for freight on either military or civil pallets.
The visit by the RAF Voyager was a very pleasant surprise and great warm-up for the coming months when Rockhampton Airport is expected to play a significant support role during the Australian and American joint Military Exercise Talisman Sabre 2017.
Sincere thanks to local plane spotter Scott H for taking the time over the last week or so to capture and send through these great photos!
All photos taken by Scott Harris ©