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RAF Voyager takes to the skies after red, white and blue makeover

The plane is used to transport the Prime Minister and the royal family to engagements abroad.

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RAF Voyager pictured during its first operation since being painted in the colours of the Union flag at a cost of almost £1 million (Corporal Alex Scott RAF/MoD Crown Copyright)

RAF Voyager pictured during its first operation since being painted in the colours of the Union flag at a cost of almost £1 million (Corporal Alex Scott RAF/MoD Crown Copyright)

RAF Voyager pictured during its first operation since being painted in the colours of the Union flag at a cost of almost £1 million (Corporal Alex Scott RAF/MoD Crown Copyright)

A plane used to transport the Prime Minister and the royal family has returned to the skies after its red, white and blue makeover costing almost £1 million.

The once-grey RAF Voyager has been resprayed in white, with a Union flag on the tailfin and United Kingdom written in gold on the fuselage.

Boris Johnson had previously complained about the military paint scheme used on the jet.

Following the plane’s return to its base at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire this week, the military has released images showing Voyager back in the skies operating in its “primary role” of acting as a “petrol station in the sky” by offering air-to-air refuelling.

A spokesman for the RAF said the new-look jet spent most of Friday airborne, providing several refuelling stops for RAF Lightning and Typhoon fighters during Exercise Crimson Ocean, a joint RAF and Royal Navy exercise.

As well as being a serving military plane, Voyager is used to transport the Prime Minister and members of the royal family to engagements abroad.

The cost of the respray, undertaken at an airport in Cambridgeshire, was condemned by opposition politicians when it was revealed earlier this month.

The SNP lambasted it as an “utterly unacceptable use of public funds”.

Downing Street, which confirmed the work would cost “around £900,000”, said the new colour scheme meant the plane could better represent the UK around the world with “national branding”.

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RAF Voyager in operation during Exercise Crimson Ocean (Corporal Alex Scott RAF/MoD Crown Copyright)

RAF Voyager in operation during Exercise Crimson Ocean (Corporal Alex Scott RAF/MoD Crown Copyright)

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RAF Voyager in operation during Exercise Crimson Ocean (Corporal Alex Scott RAF/MoD Crown Copyright)

At the time the price tag was revealed, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “That incorporates the cost of creating a design that will promote the UK around the world without compromising the plane’s vital military role.

“At every stage we have worked to ensure value for money for the UK taxpayer and all of the work has been undertaken in the UK, directly benefiting British suppliers.”

Mr Johnson has previously questioned why the plane was grey, saying he would like to have a “Brexit plane” to help him travel the world and promote the Government’s vision of global Britain.

He also complained in 2018 while foreign secretary that the RAF Voyager jet, which is shared by the Prime Minister, senior Cabinet members and the royal family, “never seems to be available”.

PA