The first air refuelling boom contact has been made by a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) crew of the KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft.
During a three-hour flight from RAAF Base Amberley on 13 May 2015, the crew deployed the 17-metre long Aerial Refuelling Boom System (ARBS) which is mounted beneath the tail of the fuselage.
Using fly-by-wire controls, the crew made 14 successful contacts between the ARBS and a refuelling receptacle of another KC-30A, although no fuel was transferred. Air Vice-Marshal Gavin Turnbull, Air Commander Australia, said air-to-air refuelling required both KC-30As to fly in close formation at more than 500 kilometres per hour, and an altitude of 7,000 metres.
“More training flights are being flown to ensure aircrew are experienced with the operation of the ARBS,” Air Vice-Marshal Turnbull said.
“We will shortly begin training flights with the KC-30A using its ARBS to refuel the E-7A Wedgetail.
“The KC-30A has already been cleared to refuel other aircraft in-flight with its hose-and-drogue refuelling pods, which are mounted beneath the wings.
“The refuelling pods have been used to great effect in Operation OKRA by refuelling RAAF Hornets and Super Hornets over Iraq, as well as on Coalition strike aircraft.”
The ARBS can offload fuel at 4500 litres per minute, and is also compatible with refuelling the C-17A Globemaster. In future, the ARBS will also refuel the F-35A Lightning and P-8A Poseidon.
“Air refuelling aircraft, like the KC-30A, are always in high demand as they are true force multipliers,” Air Vice-Marshal Turnbull said.
“This demand will increase further in the early part of the next decade, as Australia alone will have approximately 100 aircraft that will require use of the ARBS.
“The introduction of boom refuelling to the KC-30A significantly increases the utility of a cornerstone capability for Defence,” Air Vice-Marshal Turnbull said.
The RAAF operates five KC-30As, the first being introduced in mid-2011. Each KC-30A can carry more than 100 tonnes of fuel, allowing it to fly out to a range of 1800 kilometres from its home base, remain for four hours and offload 50 tonnes of fuel.
Source: MoD Australia
Date: May 14, 2015