A Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) has conducted air-to-air refuelling with a Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) tanker.

This marks the first instance of a RAAF KC-30A being refuelled in the air by a foreign air force.

It was conducted during training called Boom Camp, which was held at RAAF Base Darwin from 25 to 30 October.

The two countries operate variants of Airbus A330 multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) aircraft, which features hose-and-drogue refuelling pods and an advanced refuelling boom system.

RAAF No 33 Squadron pilot flight lieutenant Nicolas Barnes said that the training adhered to different objectives, including receiver flying, away-base operations, heavy boom tanker consolidation, rendezvous procedures, and formation probe-and-drogue fighter refuelling.

Barnes said: “The event also provided an important opportunity for the RAAF and RSAF to share knowledge and operational experiences as operators of the same aircraft type.”

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By GlobalData

Air-to-air refuelling provides increased range to the aircraft to carry out airpower operations in the Indo-Pacific region.

The tanker crews of Singapore and Australia have previously trained at Exercise Pitch Black and Bersama Five Power Defence Arrangements exercises.

This year’s Pitch Black exercise was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

RSAF No 112 Squadron Deputy Commanding Office lieutenant colonel Cheng Li Seng said: “As a small country with limited airspace available for training, we are especially grateful to the RAAF and to the Australian Government for their consistent and strong support in allowing the RSAF to continue to deploy to Darwin amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Last month, one of the surveillance aircraft of the P-8A Poseidon fleet of the RAAF completed the first air-to-air refuelling with a KC-30A.