The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has successfully refuelled fighter aircraft in the air over the Middle East using its new Aerial Refuelling Boom System.
In August an RAAF KC-30A Multi Role Tanker Transport aircraft used the new Aerial Refueling Boom System to refuel two United States Air Force (USAF) F-16C Fighting Falcon single-engine multirole fighter aircraft from the 480th Fighter Squadron during a mission in support of counter-Daesh (ISIS) operations.
The KC-30A is a modified Airbus A330 airliner fitted with two forms of air-to-air refueling systems. The boom system is mounted on the tail of the aircraft and comprises a ‘fly-by-wire’ refuel system. The aircraft also has a pair of all-electric refuelling pods underneath each wing, which unreel a hose-and-drogue to refuel probe-equipped aircraft. These systems are controlled by an air refueling operator in the cockpit, who can view refuelling on 2D and 3D screens.
The commencement of F-16 aerial refueling broadens the tanker’s ability to support the US-led multinational coalition in the fight against Daesh in Iraq and Syria. The Commander of the Air Task Group, Air Commodore Phil Gordon said the milestone has further enhanced Australia’s reputation in the coalition environment.
“The KC-30A is highly regarded by the coalition in-theatre due to its high reliability and excellent hose and drogue refuelling capability,” Gordon said.
“The introduction of a boom refuelling capability for USAF F-16s further enhances the utility of the KC-30A in the coalition fight against Daesh.”
He said the flexibility of having both types of air-to-air refueling systems means the Australian KC-30A can be rapidly re-tasked airborne to support a greater proportion of fighters if their scheduled tanker is unavailable.