Airbus Defence and Space has demonstrated automatic air-to-air refuelling contacts with a fighter aircraft from a tanker’s refuelling boom, stating that this is a world first.
An A310 MRTT company development aircraft performed six automatic contacts with a Portuguese F-16 in a demonstration of a technique that the company believes would enhance air-to-air refuelling operations. The flight was conducted in March off the Portuguese coast.
Airbus stated on May 9 that the system requires no additional equipment on the receiver, and is intended to reduce boom operator workload, improve safety and optimise the rate of air-to-air refuelling in operational conditions to maximise combat efficiency, and it could be introduced on the A330 MRTT as soon as in 2019.
Defence and Airbus signed a research agreement in March to develop an automatic air-to-air refuelling capability for the Royal Australian Air Force’s KC-30A Multi Role Tanker Transport.