All on board the plane in “Marrakesh Impress”
Aircrew from the Royal Air Force’s largest aircraft have been impressing senior military leaders from across Africa with Voyager’s versatility at this week’s Marrakech Air Show.
The visit of the multi-role troop transporter, air-to-air refueller and airborne critical care facility aimed to demonstrate the UK’s commitment to strengthening defence ties with Morocco and to promote the RAF in Africa. With the aircraft’s presence also making prime time news on Moroccan TV, the visit is being hailed as a success.
Among those meeting the crew on board the modified Airbus A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) was Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the Kingdom of Morocco, Thomas Reilly. He said, “The Voyager is a big physical presence and therefore it is a very clear evidence of the UK’s commitment to an armed forces relationship with Morocco.
“Given the importance of the armed forces to us and to Morocco, the presence of something like the Voyager here is a huge boon to the UK bi-lateral relationship with Morocco. It goes much broader than just having an aeroplane here; it really is a physical symbol of how important we count that relationship to be and that helps me hugely in my political relationship with the Moroccan Government.”
During talks with the RAF’s senior representative, Air Commodore Mark Jeffery, and the British Defence Attaché, the Inspector General of the Moroccan Forces Royales Air, Air Brigadier General El Abed Alaoui Bouhamid, agreed that the visit by Voyager was a visible demonstration of the strength of the relationship between Morocco and the UK.
Reflecting on Voyager’s first appearance to the Marrakech Air Show, Wing Commander Roger Flynn from the UK’s Defence and Security Organisation said, “This was a very successful visit that surpassed expectations. The Moroccans were great hosts and keen to engage at all levels from their Chief down to their junior technicians.
“Senior military representatives from all over Africa, and indeed from all over the world, showed enthusiasm and interest in both the Royal Air Force and the Voyager. The reputational benefits from this visit cannot be understated for the Royal Air Force, the Airbus MRTT, and for the wider UK – Moroccan relations.”
AirTanker own, manage and maintain the RAF’s fleet of 14 Voyager aircraft and it is flown by 10 Squadron and 101 Squadron based at RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire.
Images: © Crown Copyright (Senior Aircraftman Cathy Sharples)