“In addition to its primary role as an air-to-air refueller, the aircraft will provide the secure communications capability, range and passenger capacity to support long-range travel required to enable international engagement with our partners in, for example, North America, Europe and north Asia,” a Defence spokesperson told Australian Defence Business Review.
“The modified aircraft will support long-range government transport with accommodation, meeting facilities and communications to allow conduct of normal business in transit.”
The government approved Project AIR 7403 Phase 3 for the acquisition of two additional aircraft in June 2015, and they will be modified for tanker functions through this year and next.
Further approval to progress the program to modify one of these aircraft to support long-range government transport was granted on February 12 this year. And then on August 3, a contract was signed with Airbus for the modification work on one KC-30A, which includes a government transport and communications capability.
“Detailed design for the modification is ongoing,” the spokesperson said. “However, in broad terms the capability will provide accommodation, secure communications, a meeting room, a working area and airline-style seating.
“The modified aircraft would retain its refuelling capability to respond to Australian Defence Force needs, such as Operation OKRA in the Middle East, but will also have the flexibility to conduct long-range government transport.”
The ‘Air-to-Air Refuelling Aircraft – Government transport and communications capability’ program, as outlined in the Integrated Investment Program, is valued at $190 million.
Defence has contracted Airbus, which has subcontracted the modifications to Lufthansa Technik in Hamburg. The capability is scheduled to be delivered in 2019.