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The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has completed the first air-to-air refuelling mission between a KC-30A multi role tanker transport (MRTT) and a C-17A Globemaster III cargo aircraft in close formation.

The air-to-air refuelling will allow Globemasters to fly for much longer and carry heavy payloads further without having to land.

During a two-hour sortie off the Queensland coast, the aircraft made a number of contacts between the MRTT’s aerial refuelling boom system and a receptacle above the Globemasters’ cockpit.

"During a two-hour sortie off the Queensland coast, the aircraft made a number of contacts."

RAAF Aircraft Research and Development Unit (ARDU) commanding officer wing commander Daniel Rich said: "Our testing uses a team of ARDU flight test aircrew (test pilots, flight test engineers and flight test system specialists) along with pilots and aerial refuelling operators from the operational squadrons working together on the programme.

"Our testing programme is not just of benefit to the RAAF but, through close cooperation with the US Air Force flight test system, this clearance activity will also provide a meaningful contribution across allied test and evaluation activities."

The trials are being conducted by the RAAF’s Air Warfare Centre (AWC), which is responsible for enhancing the air force’s capability and interoperability.

Based at RAAF Base Amberley, near Ipswich, the KC-30A and C-17A fleets are operated by Number 33 Squadron and Number 36 Squadron, respectively.

The RAAF’s KC-30A is currently cleared to conduct boom refuelling with the E-7A Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning & Control aircraft, as well as other KC-30As.

Image: A flight test team from the ARDU successfully conducted the first air-to-air refuelling trials between a RAAF KC-30A Multi Role Tanker Transport and a RAAF C-17A Globemaster III. Photo: © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence.