First RAAF KC-30A operational boom refuelling with an E-7A Wedgetail above Iraq
18 November 2015
A Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport aircraft has used its air-to-air refuelling boom for the first time on operations.
The capability milestone was reached during the refuelling a RAAF E-7A Wedgetail last week on a Coalition mission above Iraq.
The refuelling process involved the two large aircraft, military versions of the Airbus A330 (KC-30A) and Boeing 737-700 (E-7A), approaching within metres of each other to transfer fuel via a manoeuvrable pipe, which extends back from the rear of the KC-30A.
Air Commodore Stuart Bellingham, Commander of the Australian Air Task Group, said establishing and proving the operational boom refuelling capability was yet another in a long list of achievements by the Australian Defence Force team in the Middle East.
"Operational boom refuelling by the KC-30A last week was another significant achievement for both Air Force and the Air Task Group," Air Commodore Bellingham said.
"Both of the aircraft involved, the KC-30A and the E-7A Wedgetail, are two of the newest and most advanced aircraft operating in the fight against Daesh.
"Being able to use the KC-30A boom on operations to refuel an aircraft such as the Wedgetail is a force multiplier for Australian Air Power and Coalition air operations.
"Proving this mode of air-to-air refuelling adds to the list of aircraft types that our KC-30A can now support, contributing to another in-demand capability of the coalition air campaign."
A United States Air Force (USAF) Air Refuelling Operator, currently on exchange with the RAAF, was responsible for remotely manoeuvring the boom from a control panel on the KC-30A flight deck.
"I've conducted over a thousand boom refuelling missions in my career with the USAF, but never on operations with a KC-30A," the Air Refuelling Operator said.
"This was a first for me, and I'm glad I could be part of making history on this mission - especially with such an important coalition capability.
"As the receiving aircraft approaches the rear of the KC-30A, it's my job to communicate with the pilot and manoeuvre the boom using two control sticks to ensure that a solid and safe connection is made to the receiving aircraft.
"To refuel the Wedgetail we manoeuvred the boom into a refuelling receptacle located just above and aft of the aircraft cockpit while moving at over 750km/h, and at a height of 25,000 feet, and then started transferring the fuel.
"During this mission we transferred 34,750 pounds of fuel in about 15 minutes - the equivalent of refuelling 300 family sedans at a rate of less than three seconds per car.
"We look forward to this becoming a normal part of our operations to assist the Wedgetail's vital mission of providing airborne early warning, command and control above Iraq and Syria."
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 Air Task Group conducts precision strike, close air support, air-to-air refuelling and airborne command and control in Iraq and Syria as part of the international coalition formed to disrupt and degrade Daesh.