The Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) KC-30A tanker aircraft has conducted air-to-air refuelling (AAR) of two US Air Force (USAF) B-1B Lancer bomber aircraft.

The AAR of the USAF’s aircraft was performed in the Northern Territory.

The process allowed RAAF’s KC-30A multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) aircraft to support the USAF’s bomber aircraft to maintain their global reach capability.

The mission also provided a crucial opportunity for RAAF aviators to demonstrate their interoperability skills in challenging yet realistic environments.

After completing the AAR process, the bombers landed at the RAAF Base Darwin, where the two performed hot pit refuelling.

It was supported by RAAF No. 13 Squadron aviation refuellers and USAF’s maintenance staff.

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This also marks the first time a USAF’s B-1B aircraft has received fuel using the RAAF’s JP157 hydrant cart during the hot-turn refuelling technique. 

Air Base and No. 13 Squadron executive officer squadron leader Michael Moroney said: “The safe and successful refuel highlights continued steps in our interoperability and provides validation for future USAF activities at RAAF Base Darwin.

“This was also the first use of the in-ground refuelling pits for USAF aircraft on the US-funded extension of bomber replenishment apron.

“The operational use of this infrastructure, which was designed to be used by USAF and RAAF refuel equipment, is an important milestone for both air forces.”

The USAF’s Lancers have been visiting the RAAF Base Darwin under the enhanced air cooperation activities, which began in 2017.

The objective of such activities is to strengthen bilateral collaboration between Australia and the US.

The joint training activities also include aero-medical evacuation interoperability training, integration of fifth-generation capabilities and integrated aircraft maintenance activities.