Enables the rapid deployment of troops and their weaponry, and fast-jet fighter aircraft, to any theatre of operations around the world.


  • Engines: Four RR Conway turbofans
  • Thrust: 20,000lbs each
  • Max speed: 530kts
  • Length: 48.36m
  • Max altitude: 43,000ft
  • Span: 44.55m
  • Aircrew: 4

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Who uses the VC10

101 Squadron
RAF Brize Norton


The VC10 C1K is a dual-role AT and AAR aircraft. In the AT role, the aircraft is used for troop carrying, with accommodation for 124 passengers and nine crew. Use of a large, cabin-freight door on the forward left side of the aircraft allows easy conversion of the aircraft into a dual-role passenger/freight or full-freight configuration. In its full-freight role, the cabin can hold up to 20,400kgs of palletised freight, ground equipment or vehicles, on its permanently strengthened floor. The aircraft can also be used for aero-medical evacuation, for which up to 68 stretchers may be fitted.

The C1Ks were converted to the AAR role in 1993 with the fitting of a Mk32 refuelling pod under the outboard section of each wing. The aircraft can carry up to 69,800kgs of fuel using its original eight fuel tanks; the fuel can be used to feed the aircraft itself or be dispensed to receiver aircraft that are equipped with a probeand- drogue refuelling system. Capable of refuelling two aircraft simultaneously from the two underwing pods, the VC10 C1K can itself be refuelled from a suitably equipped VC10K or TriStar AAR aircraft by the use of an air-to-air refuelling probe, which is permanently attached to the aircraft nose. The aircraft is equipped with a modern flight-management system and the avionics required for full worldwide operations. The crew comprises two pilots, a weapon systems officer, a flight engineer, an air loadmaster and up to three air stewards.

The bulk of the RAF’s single-role AAR fleet comprises VC10s of two different variants, the K3 and K4. Each aircraft is a three-point tanker, with fuel being dispensed from the two wing-hoses or from the single fuselage-mounted Hose Drum Unit (HDU). The wing hoses can transfer fuel at up to 1000kgs per minute and are used to refuel tactical fast-jet aircraft. The HDU can transfer fuel up to 2000kgs per minute and is usually used to refuel ‘heavy’ strategic aircraft, although it can also be used by fast-jet aircraft.

Each tanker variant of VC10 carries a different fuel load. The K3 is equipped with fuselage fuel tanks, mounted in the passenger compartment, and can carry up to 78 tonnes of fuel. These internal tanks are not fitted to the K4, which has a maximum fuel load of 68 tonnes. For self defence, the aircraft’s only countermeasures are its recent change to a low infrared paint scheme (grey), a radar-warning receiver and a Matador IRCM (Infrared Counter Measures) missile-protection system, which comprises two infrared jammers mounted under the engines at the rear of the aircraft. The aircraft also has a very limited passenger-carrying capacity used almost exclusively to carry ground crew and other operational support personnel.

The VC10 is now reaching the end of its service life, but continual modifications maintain the aircraft as a significant asset, enabling the rapid deployment of troops and their weaponry, and fast-jet fighter aircraft, to any theatre of operations around the world.

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If you would like to see the full Royal Air Force Strategy please download the following pdf document.

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