World Aviation Defense & Security News - Australia
RAAF and Airbus to further develop KC-30A MRTT aircraft capabilities
The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and Airbus today signed a research agreement to further develop the RAAF KC-30A’s capabilities, Airbus announced on March 2nd, 2017. The agreement strengthens the industrial partnership between Airbus and Australia’s defence force, and will help to define the evolution of the KC-30A fleet as it reaches operational maturity and expand its capabilities.
RAAF and Airbus to further develop KC 30A MRTT aircraft capabilities 640 001The KC-30A lands for the first time on Australian soil at its new home, RAAF Base Amberley, on May 30, 2011
(Credit: RAAF/LACW Kylie Gibson) 
This will result in the KC-30A’s core transport and refuelling capabilities supporting the RAAF’s transformation into a fully integrated force, capable of tackling complex contemporary defence and security challenges.

The agreement’s first milestone is the joint development of the automatic air-to-air refuelling (A3R) concept, which represents a major step forward in in-flight refuelling.

Automating boom refuelling contacts reduces potential risk by minimising operator workload, and increases operational efficiency by cutting the time for each contact. The system requires no additional equipment in the receiver aircraft.

Initial approach and tracking of the receiver is performed manually from the A330 MRTT’s console. Once the image processing system acquires the receiver and the receptacle position, the operator can use the system aid allowing the boom to automatically follow the receptacle. Final extension of the boom’s telescopic beam is manually performed by its operator to make and maintain contact.

Fernando Alonso, Head of Military Aircraft at Airbus Defence and Space said: "The KC-30A offers tremendous combat potential at the heart of the integrated Air Force of the Future, including using the platform as a Communication Node, to maximise air power delivery."

Air Marshal Leo Davies, Chief of Air Force, RAAF, highlighted the value of ongoing defence and industry collaboration.

"We are delighted to contribute to the research and development of A3R with Airbus to automate the process for boom refuelling without the need for control by our on-board air refuelling operator", said Air Marshal Davies.

The Royal Australian Air Force and Airbus have successfully performed proximity trials, with physical contacts planned for the near future.

The KC-30A is able to transfer more than 100 tonnes of fuel to Royal Australian Air Force’s F/A-18A/B Hornets, F/A-18F Super Hornets, and when fully operational refuel E-7A Wedgetail, C-17A Globemaster III and other KC-30As. It will be compatible with refuelling the P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft and F-35A Lightning II when these aircraft enter service.

Based at RAAF Base Amberley and operated by Number 33 Squadron, the five KC-30As feature advanced mission systems, including military communications and navigation, an electronic warfare self-protection system for protection against threats from surface-to-air missiles.

The KC-30A MRTT has a fuel capacity of more than 100 tonnes, and can remain 1800km from its home base with 50 tonnes of fuel available to offload for up to four hours. In its transport role, the KC-30A is capable of carrying 270 passengers, comes with under-floor cargo compartments and will be able to accommodate 34,000 kgs of military and civilian cargo pallets and containers.