Handley Page Victor
The Handley Page Victor is a British jet-powered strategic bomber developed and produced by Handley Page during the Cold War. It was the third and final V bomber to be operated by the Royal Air Force (RAF), the other two being the Avro Vulcan and the Vickers Valiant. Entering service in 1958, the Victor was initially developed as part of the United Kingdom's airborne nuclear deterrent, but it was retired from the nuclear mission in 1968, following the discovery of fatigue cracks which had been exacerbated by the RAF's adoption of a low-altitude flight profile to avoid interception, and due to the pending introduction of the Royal Navy's submarine-launched Polaris missiles in 1969.
With the nuclear deterrent mission relinquished to the Royal Navy a large V-bomber fleet could not be justified. A number of Victors were modified for strategic reconnaissance, using a combination of radar, cameras, and other sensors. Prior to the introduction of Polaris, some had already been converted into tankers to replace Valiants; further conversions to tankers followed and some of these re-purposed Victors refuelled Vulcan bombers during the Black Buck raids of the Falklands War.
Due to its technological sophistication and superior capabilities, the Victor was the last of the V-bombers to be retired from service on 15 October 1993, following the earlier retirement of the Valiants in 1965 and Vulcans in 1984. In its refueling role the Victor was replaced by the Vickers VC10 and the Lockheed Tristar.