17 Juni 2015
KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport and E-7A Wedgetail aircraft. (photos : Aus DoD)
Air Force has completed air-to-air refuelling trials between its KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport and E-7A Wedgetail aircraft.
Conducted in airspace off the coast of northern New South Wales from 1-13 June 2015, the trials marked the first time the Wedgetail had refuelled from the KC-30A.
Wing Commander Christian Martin, Commanding Officer of Number 2 Squadron (2SQN), said air-to-air refuelling was a ‘force multiplier’ for the Wedgetail fleet.
“Air-to-air refuelling considerably increases the Wedgetail’s range and endurance, allowing us to provide Command and Control, and Air Battlespace Management over longer periods,” Wing Commander Martin said.
“This has been demonstrated in the Middle East Region under Operation OKRA, where RAAF Wedgetails have used foreign air force tankers to fly extended sorties.
“Once the trial results are assessed an initial clearance is expected to be granted to allow Wedgetail crews to begin refuelling training flights with the KC-30A.”
The trials were conducted by Air Force’s Aircraft Research and Development Unit (ARDU) with a 2SQN Wedgetail and Number 33 Squadron (33SQN) KC-30A.
Squadron Leader Ben Goring, Executive Officer of 33SQN, said air-to-air refuelling required both aircraft to fly in close formation at more than 500 kilometres per hour.
“The KC-30A deploys the 17-metre-long Aerial Refuelling Boom System (ARBS) from the aft fuselage, which is guided by an Air Refuelling Operator on the KC-30A into a refuelling receptacle on the Wedgetail,” Squadron Leader Goring said.
“Each KC-30A has a fuel capacity of more than 100 tonnes, and can offload fuel via the ARBS at up to 4500 litres per minute.
“The ARBS on the KC-30A represents a completely new capability for Air Force.”
The KC-30A has already been cleared to refuel Air Force’s fleet of Hornets and Super Hornets using its hose-and-drogue refuelling pods. Since September 2014, KC-30As deployed to Operation OKRA in the Middle East Region have used these pods to deliver more than 10,800 tonnes of fuel to RAAF and Coalition aircraft.