The Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) KC-30A multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) has successfully refuelled a Mitsubishi F-2A aircraft of the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF).

The air-to-air-refuelling (AAR) flight test programme was conducted in Japan from 4 to 27 April.

During the test, the tail-mounted advanced refuelling boom system (ARBS) of KC-30A was plugged into a receptacle on both single-seat Mitsubishi F-2A and dual-seat F-2B aircraft.

Using 3D display screens, F-2 crew and a chase aircraft, the refuelling operator monitored the flight tests.

The air refuelling operator uses a fly-by-wire control available in the cockpit of the MRTT to control the KC-30A’s ARBS, which can extend to 19m.

The programme involved nine flights between F-2 and KC-30A aircraft in different weather conditions during the day and night-time.

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By GlobalData

The JASDF’s aircraft flew in a range of configurations, such as one with the external stores and fuel tanks and one without the external stores.

In order to ensure safety of aircraft flying in different configurations, engineers and aircrew also ensured the mechanical compatibility of systems between the aircraft.

RAAF air commander air vice-marshal Darren Goldie said: “Our ability to work seamlessly together will ensure we can continue to uphold and reinforce a secure, inclusive, and resilient Indo-Pacific region.

“This flight test programme is the culmination of two years of close cooperation between Australia’s Aircraft Research and Development Unit (ARDU) and the JASDF Air Development and Test Wing (ADTW).”

The JASDF and the RAAF have conducted various training exercises together, including Bushido Guardian in Japan and Exercise Cope North in Guam.

Besides, the two forces have coordinated on delivering relief support during natural disasters like in Tonga and Australia.

The programme will also support Japan’s participation in the exercise Pitch Black 2022, which will be held in August this year in the Northern Territory.