Voyager first flight
The A330 ZZ336 takes off from Cambridge on Jun. 25, 2020. (Screenshot from AirlinerVideos posted below).

RAF A330 Voyager ZZ336 made its first flight sporting its brand new livery on Jun. 25, 2020. The paint job displays a stylised Union Jack on the tail section and “United Kingdom” written in large gold letters along the side of the fuselage, and will be used to represent the UK during visits across the world by the government officials, VIPs and members of the Royal Family.

The aircraft entered the paint hangar on Jun. 9.

The paint job to give the standard overall grey-colered MRTT (Multi Role Transport Tanker) aircraft the new white, blue and red livery cost 900K GBP (1.1M USD), “a waste of public money” according to the opposition parties.

But Boris Johnson’s entourage does not agree. “The plane can better represent the UK around the world with national branding, which will be in line with many other leaders’ planes,” UK Prime Minister’s official spokesman said commenting the makeover.

Cost aside, some military analysts have contested the new paint job on one of the 14 Voyager aircraft destined to carry out military tasks and fly as an aerial refueler. Andy Netherwood, a former military transport pilot and defence analyst, said to the Guardian that a “shiny red, white and blue livery means the RAF will be reluctant to use it outside the most benign airspace”, adding: “No one wants to go to war in a jet painted like a brightly coloured lollipop.”

While some aircrews might really be reluctant to fly in a brightly colored aerial refueler, it must be said that tankers almost always are tasked to operate well within benign airspace (and, if needed, with a fighter escort), so the risk of being engaged visually by an enemy fighter should be fairly low: in other words, camouflage would probably make very little difference.