Perhaps the movement of the year thus far into Central Queensland was the Royal Air Force (RAF) Airbus KC2 Voyager (A330-243MRTT) ZZ338 which touched down at Rockhampton Airport on Wednesday 29 May as "Ascot 2142" direct from Hickam Field (Hickam Air Force Base) in Hawaii.
After staying for the night, ZZ338 was loaded with personnel and their cargo before departing Rockhampton Airport early on Thursday 30 May again as "Ascot 2142" but destined 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 RAAF Base Amberley in mid-April on board a RAF Boeing C-17A Globemaster III ZZ172. Of interest, fellow RAF C-17A ZZ177 was photographed departing Townsville Airport earlier this week.
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.
Back at Rockhampton though, this the second RAF Voyager to visit the beef capital - sistership ZZ330 visited about this time in 2017.
All the same, its visit 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 2019.
Sincere thanks to local plane spotter Russell P for taking the time over the last couple of days to capture and send through these great photos of a great visitor at Rockhampton Airport!
Photos taken by Russell Prothero, 'Shinpow16' and Daniel Bishop ©