The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has completed the first fuel transfer with the air refuelling boom from an RAAF KC-30A multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) to a US Air Force (USAF) F-35A Joint Strike Fighter at Edwards Air Force Base in California. A total of 59 contacts were conducted of which five contacts transferred 43,200 lb of fuel during the four-hour sortie.
The KC-30A has two refuelling systems: the hose-and-drogue; and an advanced refuelling boom system (ARBS). The two different refuelling systems allow the RAAF to support a wide range of coalition aircraft on Operation OKRA where a KC-30A is currently deployed to support combat operations against Daesh (Islamic State) in Iraq and Syria.
The five KC-30As are based at RAAF Base Amberley, Queensland, and the Air Force will receive an additional two in 2018. A single KC-30A can carry a fuel load of more than 100 metric tons and remain 1800km from its home base with 50 metric tons of fuel available for offload, for four hours.
Australia has committed to 72 F-35As for RAAF Bases Williamtown, in New South Wales, and Tindal, in the Northern Territory, with the first aircraft arriving in late 2018. The F-35A will replace the ageing F/A-18A/B Hornet with a fifth-generation networked fighter aircraft.
October 2, 2015