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October 29, 2015

RAAF KC-30A refuels USMC F/A-18C Hornet with engine trouble over Iraq

The Royal Australian Air Force's (RAAF) KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport has refuelled a US Marine Corps (USMC) F/A-18C Hornet with engine trouble over Iraq, first of such effort by a RAAF aircraft over a war-zone.

By Samseer M

RAAF

The Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport has refuelled a US Marine Corps (USMC) F/A-18C Hornet with engine trouble over Iraq, first of such effort by a RAAF aircraft over a war-zone.

While flying a combat mission against Daesh over Northern Iraq, the USMC Hornet was forced to shut down one of its two engines due to a mechanical issue.

Following this accident, short on fuel, the aircraft crew requested air-to-air refuelling support from the RAAF KC-30A.

RAAF KC-30A aircraft captain Squadron Leader Jamie said: "The hardest part was that the Hornet couldn’t maintain the required altitude or speed that we normally refuel at due to the hostile environment over Iraq.

"The first option was to accept refuelling at a reduced speed, lower than normally required, and refuelling at that speed had never been done by me or my crew.

"The other option was to do what we call tobogganing, where we refuel while descending to allow the Hornet to gather more speed."

Jamie said the team selected the first option as the second would have brought the aircraft below a safe altitude.

"The hardest part was that the Hornet couldn’t maintain the required altitude or speed that we normally refuel at due to the hostile environment over Iraq."

During the mission, the USMC pilot demonstrated incredible skill and both the aircraft were able to perform manoeuvres in order to enable the jet to refuel, fly out of Iraq and land safely, he added.

The Australian Air Task Group operates as a part of the coalition effort includes six F/A-18A Hornet aircraft, a KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport and an E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control aircraft.

Recently, another RAAF KC-30A refuelled an E-7A Wedgetail above Iraq, using its air-to-air refuelling boom for the first time during operations.

The air-to-air boom refuelling process involved two large aircraft transferring fuel through a manoeuvrable pipe, known as a boom, which extends back from the rear of the KC-30A.


Image: RAAF KC-30A provides air-to-air refuelling support to Coalition aircraft over Iraq. Photo: courtesy of CPL Ben Dempster / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence.

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