The four hour sortie took place from Edwards AFB in California, and saw the KC-30A perform 59 boom contacts, says Australia’s Department of Defense in a statement. Of these, five contacts were “wet” and included the transfer of 43,200lb of fuel to the USAF F-35A.
“Our KC-30A is an essential force multiplier,” says air force chief AM Leo Davies. “Mid-air refueling is critical to ensuring global reach for our aircraft, our people and our equipment.
Refueling between the KC-30A and F-35A is an important step towards the KC-30A’s achievement of Final Operational Capability (FOC) and represents continued progress in the development of the F-35A.
Canberra’s KC-30As – a variant of the A330 airliner - are capable of refueling aircraft via a boom or with wing-mounted hose-and-drogue equipment. Both systems have been used by a KC-30A engaged in combat operations against Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq.
Australia operates five KC-30As and will receive an additional pair in 2018. By 2023, only 36 RAAF aircraft will still use hose-and-drogue refueling, its 24 Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornets and 12 EA-18G Growlers. The remaining 100 aircraft in its fleet, including the Lockheed Martin F-35, will require boom refueling.
In early 2015, Australia removed the KC-30A from its ‘Projects of Concern’ list following remediation work related to the type’s aerial refueling boom.
The type was on the list since February 2010 owing to a number of project delays.
Extensive work has been undertaken by Airbus in Spain related to the capability.
(Greg Waldron - Flightglobal News)