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 on 23 October 2015, during the first operational refuelling of the E-7 Awacs. Clearly visible is the extended probe of the tanker’s refuelling boom, which features the latest technology available for this difficult operation. (Image © Major Cameron Jamieson / HQJTF633 / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)

First operational RAAF KC-30 refuelling of E-7

A Royal Australian Air Force KC-30A (Airbus A330 MRTT) has used its air‑to‑air refuelling boom for the first time on operations while refuelling a RAAF E-7A Wedgetail (Boeing 737) last week during a Coalition mission above Iraq, the Ministry of Defence in Canberra announced on 27 October 2015.

The air-to-air boom refuelling process involved two large aircraft, military versions of the Airbus A330 and Boeing 737-700, approaching within metres of each other while in flight and transferring fuel via a manoeuvrable pipe, known as a boom, which extends back from the rear of the KC-30A. This type of refuelling involves use of the AAR boom at the rear of the aircraft, rather than the wingtip AAR drogues used to refuel smaller aircraft equipped with an AAR probe.

A Royal Australian Air Force E-7A Wedgetail carries out the first operational air-to-air refuellilng from a RAAF KC-30A operations above Iraq on 23 October 2015 (Image © CPL Ben Dempster /  	28SQN AFID - AMB / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
A Royal Australian Air Force E-7A Wedgetail carries out the first operational air-to-air refuellilng from a RAAF KC-30A operations above Iraq on 23 October 2015 (Image © CPL Ben Dempster / 28SQN AFID – AMB / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)

The Air Refuelling Operator was responsible for remotely manoeuvring the boom from a control panel on the KC-30A flight deck. While moving at an altitude of 25,000 feet at speeds over 400 knots the KC-30 crew transferred 34,750 pounds of fuel within 15 minutes. That’s equal to 300 family sedan cars at a rate of less than three seconds per car.

A KC-30A and an E-7A Wedgetail, along with six F/A-18A Hornet aircraft, are deployed with the Australian Air Task Group as part of Operation Okra – the Australian contribution to Operation Inherent Resolve – or air strikes against the so-called Islamic State (Daesh) forces in Iraq and Syria.

Source: Australian Government – Ministry of Defence
Featured image (top): 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 on 23 October 2015, during the first operational refuelling of the E-7 Awacs. Clearly visible is the extended probe of the tanker’s refuelling boom, which features the latest technology available for this difficult operation. (Image © Major Cameron Jamieson / HQJTF633 / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)