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Birmingham Post
Birmingham Post
Andrew Arthur

Military jet developer Aeralis to explore AirTanker collaboration

Military jet developer Aeralis has reached an agreement to explore possible collaborations with a firm that supports air-to-air refuels of Royal Air Force aircraft.

The Bristol-based start-up manufacturer, which is currently developing a modular aircraft design for the RAF, has said it has signed a memorandum of understanding with AirTanker, which services the RAF’s fleet of Voyager transport planes.

AirTanker, which is based at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, is owned by a consortium of aerospace and defence giants, including Airbus, Rolls-Royce, Cobham, Babcock and Thales.

Aeralis - which is looking to deliver the first fully British-crewed military jet since the 1970s - said it would work with AirTanker to secure military flying training contracts, as well as defence operational training and combat air support roles.

As part of the deal, the two firms will share information and regular progress updates, as well as joint workshops.

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Aeralis said its programme would be used to achieve “significantly lower” financing, acquisition and operating costs for aircraft, and enable a range of ‘on-demand’ operational air support services for defence fleets.

It comes after the company secured a £9m digital engineering support contract with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in December. AirTanker signed a 27-year deal in 2008 to support 14 RAF Voyager planes.

Aeralisfounder and chief executive Tristan Crawford said:“Aeralis is delighted to have signed this memorandum of understanding with AirTanker, marking an important step in Aeralis going to market not only with a transformational aircraft system but also with a disruptive aircraft service offering.

“In the coming years this will have the potential to transform the operating economics of defence light jet aviation, releasing sorely needed capacity and capability for military customers across a number of domains.”

AirTanker chief executive Phill Blundell added: “We are excited to be collaborating with the Aeralis team on this transformative programme and bring our expertise of supporting and delivering complex military operating solutions into the project at this developmental stage.”

Aeralis has previously signed partnerships with Rolls-Royce, Thales UK, Atkins, Siemens, Martin-Baker and Hamble Aerostructures for the delivery of its aircraft.

The company officially opened its enterprise hub offices at Bristol’s Aztec West Business Park last year.

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