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KC-30 uses its boom on operations for the first time

Download: Printable PDF Date: 28 Oct 2015 05:28 (UTC) category:
KC-30 uses its boom on operations for the first time - Manufacturer publisher
Tatjana Obrazcova
Country: Australia Aircraft: Airplanes

A RAAF KC-30A tanker transport has refuelled a RAAF E-7A Wedgetail AEW&C aircraft on operations for the first time.

The mission over Iraq in support of Coalition operations against Islamic State last week saw the KC-30 use its ARBS (Aerial Refuelling Boom System) to refuel the Wedgetail in the first time a RAAF KC-30 had used its boom on operations.

“Being able to use the KC-30A boom on operations to refuel an aircraft such as the Wedgetail is a force multiplier for Australian air power and Coalition air operations,” Commander of the Australian Air Task Group, Air Commodore Stuart Bellingham, said in a statement.

“Proving this mode of air-to-air refuelling adds to the list of aircraft types that our KC-30A can now support, contributing to another in-demand capability of the coalition air campaign.”

The 17m long ARBS is capable of offloading fuel at a rate of 4,500 litres per minute.

“During this mission we transferred 34,750lb of fuel in about 15 minutes – the equivalent of refuelling 300 family sedans at a rate of less than three seconds per car,” the KC-30’s unnamed air refuelling operator said in the statement.

“We look forward to this becoming a normal part of our operations to assist the Wedgetail’s vital mission of providing airborne early warning, command and control above Iraq and Syria.”

The ARBS boom had a troubled early life – during flight testing a KC-30 bound for the RAAF lost its boom in an incident while refuelling a Portuguese F-16 in January 2011.

But the then Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) announced in March this year that the KC-30 project – AIR 5402 – had been removed from its Projects of Concern list, after an extensive development and testing program resolved issues with the ARBS.

The view from the cockpit of a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) E-7A Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft as it approaches a RAAF KC-30 Multirole Tanker Transport aircraft in the sky over northern Iraq. Clearly visible is the extended probe of the tanker’s refuelling boom, which features the latest technology available for this difficult operation. This rendezvous was a historic occasion, marking the first air-to-air refuelling of a RAAF aircraft in combat using the KC-30’s tail boom refuelling probe. The refuelling mission resulted in the flawless transfer of nearly 35,000 pounds of fuel from the tanker, allowing the E-7A to remain airborne for over 12 hours.

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