An RAAF KC-30A multirole tanker transport (MRTT) of the Amberley-based 33SQN has returned to the UAE to resume air refuelling operations in support of coalition aircraft under Operation OKRA.
While the Islamic State has largely been defeated in Iraq and Syria, the US and other partner nations maintain large numbers of combat and support aircraft in the region to respond to threats as they emerge, and many of these require air-to-air refuelling in order to transit the long distances from their gulf region bases.
“The KC-30A can operate at long ranges, delivering significant payloads of fuel to a wide variety of Coalition aircraft,” Commander of Air Task Group, GPCAPT Paul Long said in a June 6 statement.
An RAAF KC-30A was last deployed to the region in 2018, returning home in late October after completing a four month deployment during which it flew 75 missions and transferred about five million pounds of fuel during 776 flying hours over Iraq and the gulf region.
A KC-30A was initially deployed to Operation OKRA as part of a package which included eight Super Hornet fighters and an E-7A Wedgetail AEW&C aircraft in August 2014. Over a four year period during which single KC-30As were deployed at a time and rotated out every few months, the RAAF KC-30As offloaded more than 100 million pounds of fuel to coalition aircraft, the rough equivalent of 7,400 Super Hornets from empty.