RAAF and USAF aircraft conduct refuelling trials for interoperability

9 November 2018 (Last Updated November 9th, 2018 11:30)

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) is set to complete standard procedures for refuelling trials between its KC-30A multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) and the US Air Force’s (USAF) F-22 Raptor aircraft.

RAAF and USAF aircraft conduct refuelling trials for interoperability
A RAAF KC-30A tanker aircraft refuels the USAF’s F-22 combat aircraft. Credit: © Royal Australian Air Force.

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) is set to complete standard procedures for refuelling trials between its KC-30A multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) and the US Air Force’s (USAF) F-22 Raptor aircraft.

The airforce conducted refuelling trials using the RAAF No 33 Squadron’s KC-30A air-to-air refuelling tanker aircraft and the Lockheed Martin F-22 tactical fighter jet.

Trials were carried out to assess the ability of both aircraft to safely manoeuvre together while being connected and with the receiver aircraft carrying different payloads.

In August and September, the USAF carried out eight refuelling test flights between the two aircraft at the service’s Edwards Air Force Base (AFB) in California.

Currently, the data collected from the tests is being evaluated to complete the standard procedures for refuelling activities.

“A flight test team from the RAAF’s Aircraft Research and Development Unit worked in close cooperation with its USAF counterparts to plan the trial and gather necessary information.”

RAAF Air Mobility Group commander air commodore William Kourelakos said: “Being able to refuel the F-22, whether it’s in Australia or elsewhere, increases our interoperability and enhances the reach and mobility of these aircraft.

“The KC-30A already has refuelling clearances for a number of unique USAF aircraft such as the B-1B Lancer.”

With an internal fuel capacity of 8.2t, the KC-30A aerial tanker aircraft has been designed to carry out air-to-air refuelling, in addition to carrying external tanks underneath the wings.

The tanker has a fuel capacity of more than 100t and can use its 15m-long advanced refuelling boom system to connect with the US F-22 Raptor.

A flight test team from the RAAF’s Aircraft Research and Development Unit worked in close cooperation with its USAF counterparts to plan the trial and gather necessary information during the tests.

In August 2016, the RAAF KC-30A refuelled the USAF’s F-16C combat jet for the first time during Exercise Pitch Black.