Tag Archives: KC-30

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)

First boom contact for RAAF KC-30

A Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Airbus KC-30 (A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport – MRTT) made the first ever air refuelling boom contact in RAAF service on Wednesday 13 May. During a three hour flight from Amberley airbase, the crew deployed the 17-meter long Aerial Refuelling Boom System (ARBS) which is mounted beneath the tail of the fuselage.

The RAAF’s five KC-30As are equipped with hose-and-drogue refuelling pods for supplying fuel to F/A-18 Hornets and Super Hornets. The A330 MRTT itself however requires a boom for inflight refuelling, along with the six Boeing C-17 Globemaster IIIs the RAAF operates.

Wednesday marked the first time an Aussie KC-30 hooked up to a fellow KC-30 that way. No fuel was transferred, but the crew made 14 successful ‘dry’ contacts. Airbus crews did similar test before with the KC-30.

The RAAF operates five KC-30As, the first being introduced in mid-2011. Each KC-30A can carry more than 100 tonnes of fuel.

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(Image © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
(Image © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
(Image © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
A Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Airbus KC-30, seen earlier this year at Eindhoven, the Netherlands, during the aftermath of the MH17 tragedy. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
A Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Airbus KC-30, seen earlier this year at Eindhoven, the Netherlands, during the aftermath of the MH17 tragedy. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): As seen from the cockpit of the receiving KC-30. (Image © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)

Gates open for the Flying Gas Station of South Korea

South Korea has officially entered the beginning of the end of the selection process of an in-flight refuelling aircraft for its Republic of Korea Air Force. Long due and delayed many times, Seoul has officially opened the bidding contest on Tuesday 14 April 2015.

With money and interoperability with the US Air Force as important issues the three candidates for the four tanker aircraft are the Airbus A330 MRTT, the Boeing KC-46 Pegasus and the Israeli Aerospace Industries Boeing 767-300ER MMTT solution. Two of the four aircraft of the expected future have to be available by 2018, the second pair within two years after that, according to sources in Seoul.

The Israeli solution of refurbishing existing aircraft seems to be the cheapest solution, with the type on its way to the Brazilian Air Force, the KC-46 the most logical choice politically speaking and the A330 MRTT probably the best choice if Seoul chooses for a proven platform instead of a new.

A RAAF F/A-18F Super Hornet waits while a RAAF KC-30A taxis past at Al Minhad Airbase, UAE (Image © SGT Andrew Eddie / 28SQN AFID - AMB / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
Combat proven with many of US and European made aircraft: the Airbus A330 MRTT in RAAF service as KC-30A, seen here in action at Al Minhad Airbase in the UAE supporting the war on ISIS (Image © SGT Andrew Eddie / 28SQN AFID – AMB / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)

The A330 MRTT already is or will be in service with the Royal Air Force (Voyager; 10 aircraft plus 4 planned, flown by AirTanker), Royal Australian Air Force (KC-30; 5 aircraft with 2 more expected), the United Arab Emirates Air Force (3), the Royal Saudi Air Force (3 plus 3 ordered), Singapore (6 planned), Qatar (2 planned), France (12 planned), India (6 planned), Spain (2 planned), the Netherlands (2 planned) and European NATO nations Belgium / Norway / the Netherlands (2 planned). Note that only 9 RAF Voyagers are fully equipped as in-flight refueller to have London save costs.

The pre-KC-46A on its maiden flight on 28 December 2014 (Image © Boeing)
The future mainstay of the US Air Force tanker fleet: a pre-KC-46A on its maiden flight on 28 December 2014 (Image © Boeing)

Although the number of 62 A330 MRTTs looks impressive, it is small compared to the 179 to 400 KC-46s the US Air Force is expecting to field the coming years. But the Boeing project has been hit by delays and the first fully-equipped Pegasus is yet to make its first flight, planned for July this year.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: The RAF Voyager, or Airbus A330 MRTT (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Test flight with the new Boeing 767-300ER MMTT tanker/cargo aircraft converted by IAI (Image © Israeli Aerospace Industries)
Test flight with the new Boeing 767-300ER Multi-Mission Tanker / Transport converted by IAI (Image © Israeli Aerospace Industries)

Cope North Guam 2015 underway

UPDATED 20 FEBRUARY 2015 | Cope North Guam 2015 (CNG15), a multinational exercise of the United States and its closest allies facing China, is underway in the Pacific. The Republic of Korea Air Force (South Korea), the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) and the Royal Australian Air Force are participating, as well as the US armed forces of course. Epicentre of the operations: Andersen Air Force Base.

CNG15 involves a large force employment performing simulated air combat and disaster relief operations according to various scenarios. For the Royal Australian Air Force this is the fourth time its personnel and aircraft are participating. To underline its importance the RAAF’s contribution is substantial: eight McDonnell Douglas (Boeing) F/A-18A/B Hornet multi-role fighters, a Airbus KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport and Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules.

Group photo shot taken at 13 February of the participants in Cope North Guam 2015 (Image © Tech. Sgt. Jason Robertson / USAF)
Group photo shot taken at 13 February of the participants in Cope North Guam 2015 (Image © Tech. Sgt. Jason Robertson / USAF)

The US Air Force has – amongst other assets – B-52s, F-15s, F-16s, KC-135s and C-130s in the area. Japan deployed indigenous Mitsubishi F-2 multi-role fighters and McDonnell Douglas (Boeing) F-15s, as well as C-130s, a KC-767J and the E-2C Hawkeye. The exact contribution of South Korea was not clear at the time of writing, but some of the images released by the RAAF give a minor clue. According to the exercise leaders officers of the Royal New Zealand Air Force and the Philippine Air Force are participating as well, but whether they bring their own aircraft was not confirmed.

Cope North Guam 2015 runs from 15 to 27 February. Corporal David Gibbs of the Royal Australian Air Force’s 28SQN AFID-EDN is at Andersen and made some nice shots!

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger, including source information provided by the RAAF and USAF

RAAF F/A-18 Hornet pilots discuss their mission after landing at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam (Image © CPL David Gibbs / 28SQN AFID-EDN / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
RAAF F/A-18 Hornet pilots discuss their mission after landing at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam (Image © CPL David Gibbs / 28SQN AFID-EDN / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
A Japan Air Self-Defence Force KC-767J tanker takes off from Andersen (Image © CPL David Gibbs / 28SQN AFID-EDN / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
A Japan Air Self-Defence Force KC-767J tanker takes off from Andersen (Image © CPL David Gibbs / 28SQN AFID-EDN / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
An US Air Force F-16 taxis out for its next mission (Image © CPL David Gibbs / 28SQN AFID-EDN / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
A Japan-based US Air Force F-16 taxis out for its next mission (Image © CPL David Gibbs / 28SQN AFID-EDN / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
An USAF HH-60 flies in low over Andersen (Image © CPL David Gibbs / 28SQN AFID-EDN / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
A USAF HH-60 flies in low over Andersen (Image © CPL David Gibbs / 28SQN AFID-EDN / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
A Republic of Korea Air Force CN235 with an US Air Force E-3 Sentry in the background (Image © CPL David Gibbs / 28SQN AFID-EDN / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
A Republic of Korea Air Force CN235 with a US Air Force E-3 Sentry in the background (Image © CPL David Gibbs / 28SQN AFID-EDN / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
A maintainer from the RAAF's No 3 Squadron watches as an Australian F/A-18 Hornet taxis past for another mission (Image © CPL David Gibbs / 28SQN AFID-EDN / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
A maintainer from the RAAF’s No 3 Squadron watches as an Australian F/A-18 Hornet starts to head out for another mission (Image © CPL David Gibbs / 28SQN AFID-EDN / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
An USAF F-15C Eagle banks over the airfield upon returning from a mission during Exercise Cope North Guam 15 (Image © CPL David Gibbs / 28SQN AFID-EDN / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
A USAF F-15C Eagle banks over the airfield upon returning from a mission during Exercise Cope North Guam 15 (Image © CPL David Gibbs / 28SQN AFID-EDN / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)

No Korean tanker decision this year

The decision on which manufacturer may deliver four in-flight refuelling aircraft to the Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) will not be taken this year, according to South Korean media including The Korea Herald.

While negotiations have been going on ever since March, there is yet no final deal in sight on the detailed price arrangements since none of the three bidders seems to meet industrial compensation that Korea wants. Those so-called offset agreements might mean work for Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) or other partners, or sharing of (some) technology with more business in mind.

Almost a dozen A330 MRTTs – flown by AirTanker as the Voyager – are already providing in-flight refuelling to the Royal Air Force (Image © AirTanker)
Featured image: Almost a dozen A330 MRTTs – flown by AirTanker as the Voyager – are already providing in-flight refuelling to the Royal Air Force
(Image © AirTanker)
The three competitors for the quartet of RoKAF tankers are the Airbus A330 MRTT (called KC-30A by the Royal Australian Air Force and Voyager by the RAF), the Boeing KC-46 Pegasus and the Israel Aircraft Industries which offers refurbished second hand aircraft. If Seoul chooses either Boeing or IAI the Koreans will get a tanker based on the 767 airliner.

Leaving politics out and focusing only on the technical and operational side of things Airbus in theory has the best cards on the table, with the A330 MRTT already in the air with the Royal Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force, the United Arab Emirates Air Force, the Royal Saudi Air Force and ordered by the air forces of Singapore, Qatar, France and wanted by India and Spain as well.

The Boeing KC-46A is still in the construction phase with loads of possible problems during the development still ahead. However, with the US armed forces co-operating closely with the South Korean defence, the politics might be critical in the decision. The US Air Force said earlier this November it “still expects Boeing to meet the August 2017 target for delivering 18 new KC-46As” out of an expected total purchase plan of 179 aircraft. When these statements are made most of the time it means delays in the program with the buyer adding pressure to the seller, while seeming confident that everything will be okay.

The IAI solution will be the most economical one, as the second hand 767 solution of the Israelis will be about half the price of a new aircraft. Time will tell which business the South Korean leadership has in mind.

© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger

Spanish Air Force EF-18 Hornet fighters have been flying with A330 MRTTs before, here they are being refueled during a test flight of a Royal Australian Air Force A330 MRTT (KC-30A) (Image © Airbus Military)
Testing being done with by a Royal Australian Air Force A330 MRTT (KC-30A) and Spanish Air Force EF-18 Hornets. (Image © Airbus Military)
Artist impression of a KC-46 conducting an in-flight refueling on a B-2 bomber . The first KC-46 is expected to fly in 2015. (Image © USAF)
Artist impression of a KC-46 conducting an in-flight refueling on a B-2 bomber . The first KC-46 is expected to fly in 2015. (Image © USAF)
Test flight with the new Boeing 767-300ER MMTT tanker/cargo aircraft converted by IAI (Image © Israeli Aerospace Industries)
Test flight with the new Boeing 767-300ER MMTT tanker/cargo aircraft converted by IAI (Image © Israeli Aerospace Industries)