A Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) crew has completed the first contact using the KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport aircraft’s refuelling boom.
The crew deployed the 17-metre-long Aerial Refuelling Boom System (ARBS) that is mounted beneath the tail of the fuselage during a three-hour flight out of RAAF Base Amberley southwest of Brisbane on May 13, according to a statement from Defence.
Using fly-by-wire controls, they made 14 successful contacts between the boom and a refuelling receptacle of another KC-30, although in this instance no fuel was transferred between the aircraft.
The Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) stated in March that the air-to-air refuelling capability project AIR 5402 had been removed from the Projects of Concern list, after an extensive development and testing program led to issues that were previously identified with the introduction of the ARBS being resolved.
“More training flights are being flown to ensure aircrew are experienced with the operation of the ARBS,” said Air Vice-Marshal Gavin Turnbull, Air Commander Australia. “We will shortly begin training flights with the KC-30A using its ARBS to refuel the E-7A Wedgetail.
“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 coalition strike aircraft.”
The ARBS is capable of offloading fuel at a rate of 4,500 litres per minute, and is also compatible with the C-17A Globemaster III; in the future, the boom will be used to refuel the F-35A Lightning II and P-8A Poseidon.
The RAAF operates five KC-30A aircraft, with the first heavily modified Airbus A330-200 airliner having been introduced in mid-2011.