RAAF KC-30A Tanker complete maiden refueling of E-7A Wedgetail

Photo: RAAF Royal Australian Air Force has completed maiden air-to-air refuelling trials between its KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transpo...

Photo: RAAF
Royal Australian Air Force has completed maiden air-to-air refuelling trials between its KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport and E-7A Wedgetail aircraft, off the coast of northern New South Wales from 1-13 June 2015.

The trials were conducted by Air Force’s Aircraft Research and Development Unit (ARDU) with a 2 SQN Wedgetail and Number 33 Squadron (33SQN) KC-30A.

The air-to-air refuelling required both aircraft to fly in close formation at more than 500 kilometres per hour.

The KC-30A deployed its 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 the refuelling receptacle on the Wedgetail.

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 air-to-air refuelling considerably increases the Wedgetail’s range and endurance, allowing to provide Command and Control, and Air Battlespace Management over longer periods.

This has been demonstrated in the Middle East Region during the Operation OKRA- the RAAF mission against ISIL, where THE Wedgetails were refueled from foreign air force tankers to fly extended sorties.

After evaluating the trial results, an initial clearance is expected to be granted to allow Wedgetail crews to begin refueling training flights with the KC-30A.”

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.

Based at RAAF Base Amberley, the five KC-30As feature advanced mission systems, including military communications and navigation, an electronic warfare self-protection system for protection against threats from surface-to-air missiles. It is based on a Airbus A330 jetliner extensively modified for the tanker role.

The KC-30A MRTT can remain 1800 km from its home base with 50 tonnes of fuel available to offload for up to four hours. In its transport role, the KC-30A is capable of carrying 270 passengers, comes with under-floor cargo compartments and will be able to accommodate 34,000 kgs of military and civilian cargo pallets and containers.

The E-7A Wedgetail is Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft based on a Boeing 737-700, with the addition of an advanced Multi-Role Electronically Scanned Array (MESA) radar and 10 mission crew consoles.