The Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft crew has successfully completed the first air refuelling boom contact.
The MRTT crew deployed the 17m-long aerial refuelling boom system (ARBS) during a three-hour flight from RAAF Base Amberley and made 14 successful contacts between the ARBS and a refuelling receptacle of another KC-30A with the help of fly-by-wire controls.
However, no fuel was transferred during the air refuelling boom contact.
According to Australia air commander air vice-marshal Gavin Turnbull, the air-to-air refuelling attempt needed both KC-30As to fly in close formation at more than 500km/h, and an altitude of 7,000m.
Turnbull said: "The KC-30A has already been cleared to refuel other aircraft in-flight with its hose-and-drogue refuelling pods, which are mounted beneath the wings.
"The refuelling pods have been used to great effect in Operation OKRA by refuelling RAAF Hornets and Super Hornets over Iraq, as well as on coalition strike aircraft."
The ARBS is capable of delivering fuel at 4500l/m and it is also compatible with refuelling the C-17A Globemaster.
The system is expected to achieve the capability to refuel the F-35A Lightning and P-8A Poseidon in future.
Turnbull added: "More training flights are being flown to ensure aircrew are experienced with the operation of the ARBS.
"We will shortly begin training flights with the KC-30A using its ARBS to refuel the E-7A Wedgetail.
Currently, the RAAF operates five KC-30As, each with a capacity to carry more than 100t of fuel. This feature will allow the aircraft to fly out to a range of 1800km from its home base.
Image: Royal Australian Air Force KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport aircraft conduct their first air-to-air refuelling boom contact. Photo: courtesy of SGT Christopher Dickson / © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence.