The Royal Australian Air Force's (RAAF) KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) has refuelled the US Air Force's (USAF) F-16C fighter aircraft for the first time during the Pitch Black 16 exercise.

Scheduled to take place between 29 July and 19 August, the biennial warfare exercise allows participating nations to exercise deployed units in the tasking, planning and execution of offensive counter air (OCA) and offensive air support (OAS).

The KC-30A flew continuously with six F-16Cs from Kadena Air Base, Japan to RAAF Base Darwin.

During the flight that lasted for more than six hours, KC-30A conducted 35 contacts with the F-16Cs and transferred nearly 70,000l of fuel to the F-16Cs using its 18m-long advanced refuelling boom system (ARBS).

The ARBS was controlled by an Air Refuelling Operator in the KC-30A’s cockpit through the use of fly-by-wire controls and 3D Glasses.

RAAF Group Captain Adam Williams said: “The air-to-air refuelling boom on the KC-30A performed well, with no significant issues.

“Despite some periods of moderate turbulence en route, they completed the 5,400km journey safely.”

In addition to F-16Cs, the KC-30A will refuel the E-7A Wedgetail and F/A-18s participating in the exercise.

"This will further reinforce the close bonds between our Air Forces in the field of air-to-air refuelling."

Williams further added: “This deployment is a significant milestone for the RAAF’s KC-30A, as it demonstrates our ability to refuel international F-16s within the Asia Pacific region, as well as during operations further abroad.

“This will further reinforce the close bonds between our Air Forces in the field of air-to-air refuelling.”

The RAAF KC-30A and USAF F-16s assigned to Edwards Air Force Base in California recently conducted successful refuelling trials.

Image: The RAAF duty crew oversee the arrival of a KC-30A MRTT aircraft during Pitch Black 16 exercise at RAAF Base Darwin, Australia. Photo: courtesy of Australian Defence Force photo by CPL Casey Gaul.