Tag Archives: Williamtown

Australian KC-30A refuels F-35

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

Australia: major F-35 order

The first F-35 for Luke AFB arriving on 10 March 2014 (Image © Staff Sgt. Darlene Seltmann / USAF)
Australia will initially base F-35s at Luke AFB in the US. The first USAF F-35 for Luke is seen here arriving on 10 March 2014 (Image © Staff Sgt. Darlene Seltmann / USAF)

The Australian government announced a major arms deal on Wednesday 23 April. ‘Down under’ will order 58 Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II 5th generation fighter aircraft on top of 14 aircraft already ordered. The deal is worth an estimated 12 billion USD.

The new aircraft will arrive from 2018 onwards and replace the aging Boeing F/A-18A and B Hornets that have been serving the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) for many years. Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s rightist government is said to also consider a further 28 F-35s to replace newer Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet aircraft as well. This may bring the total number of F-35A Lightning II aircraft order by Canberra up to 100.

As part of the procurement, Australia will also invest in its airbases in Williamtown in New South Wales and Tindal in the Northern Territory. These bases are earmarked for future F-35 operations.

The first Australian F-35A is already in production at Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth production line. The aircraft is set to be delivered to the RAAF in the near future, along with a second example. Until 2018, these aircraft will fly from Luke Air Force Base in the US.

© 2014 AIRheads’ editor Elmer van Hest

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