A US Air Force F-35A Lightning II completed the first air-to-air refueling from an Airbus A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) recently in the skies over Edwards Air Force Base, California. The Airbus tanker was a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) aircraft designated KC-30A. A total of 59 contacts were conducted of which five contacts transferred 43,200 pounds of fuel during the four hour sortie.
Following an Italian Boeing KC-767 earlier this year, the KC-30A is the second foreign tanker aircraft to succesfully refuel the F-35, of which the Australians have 72 on order. The RAAF uses five relatively new KC-30As for air-to-air refueling. “Our KC-30A is an essential force multiplier. Mid-air refuelling is critical to ensuring global reach for our aircraft, our people and our equipment. Refuelling 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”, said Chief of the Air Force, Air Marshal Leo Davies.
Current Australian F-18 Hornet fighter aircraft use the hose-and-drogue system for refueling, whereas the F-35A uses the refueling boom. The KC-30 is equipped for both. Two more Aussie KC-30s are expected in 2018.
Australia currently flies two F-35s at Luke Air Force Base in the US. In the future, the 5th generation fighter aircraft will be based at RAAF bases Williamtown and Tindal, with the first aircraft arriving in late 2018.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest