The Australian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has signed an update to the existing acquisition contract with Airbus Defence and Space for the two additional KC-30A aircraft and associated conversion.

The new development is valued at A$408m ($313.74m). Iy will see the delivery of two additional KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport aircraft to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

These additional aircraft are expected to be delivered in 2018, enhancing the air-to-air refuelling capacity of the force.

A military variant of the Airbus A330 passenger jet, the KC-30A aircraft is designed to provide air-to-air refuelling for air combat to enhance flight time and range.

"The additional aircraft are expected to be delivered in 2018, enhancing the air-to-air refuelling capacity of the force."

Currently, the RAAF operates five KC-30As, each with a capacity to carry more than 100t of fuel, allowing the aircraft to fly at a range of 1800km from its home base.

It is capable of refuelling F/A-18A/B Hornets, F/A-18F Super Hornets, E-7A Wedgetail, C-17A Globemasters and other KC-30A aircraft.

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Moreover, KC-30A is expected to achieve the capability to refuel EA-18G Growler, P-8A Poseidon and the F-35A Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter in future.

Height of the aircraft is 17.4m, while is has a length of 59m and a wingspan of 60.3m. Maximum take-off weight and the maximum landing weight are 233t and 180t, respectively.

The tail section of the aircraft is mounted with the aerial refuelling boom system (ARBS), which is around 12m-long when retracted and up to 18m when extended.

The first KC-30A aircraft was accepted by the RAAF in June 2011 and the maiden flight was performed in September 2011. Initial operational capability (IOC) for the aircraft was achieved in February 2013.

Image: KC-30A refuelling demonstration with F/A-18A Hornets. Photo: courtesy of Chris Phutully from Australia.