Royal Australian Air Force KC-30A refuels Indonesian Air Force F-16s

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) announced on August 16 that it has conducted air-to-air refuelling training with the Indonesian Air Force for the first time, reflecting the close and positive relationship between the regional partners. The air-to-air refuelling (AAR) Currency Event 2023 was held from 6 to 12 August 2023.

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Royal Australian Air Force strengthens military ties with Indonesian Air Force Royal Australian Air Force KC-30 A39-002 refuelling a USAF F-16 during a trial in 2015. The Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) is a European aerial refuelling and military transport aircraft based on the civilian Airbus A330. A total of 16 countries have placed firm orders for approximately 70 aircraft (Picture source: U.S. Air Force/Christian Turner)

A team of 21 Australian aviators from RAAF No.33 Squadron trained with Indonesian Air Force F-16 pilots out of Denpasar Airport earlier this month. Officer Commanding No.86 Wing, Group Captain Brent Taylor, said the Australian pilots used a KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft alongside Indonesian F-16 fighter aircraft in an activity that enhanced RAAF’s own air mobility skills. A total of 60 F-16 sorties were flown with the RAAF KC-30A during the training event, achieving 200 successful refuelling boom contacts.

“Australia is one of a small number of nations to have conducted refuelling training with Indonesian aircraft, boosting our interoperability with an important regional partner,” Group Captain Taylor said. “Our aviators developed their skillsets in working with a partner nation to deliver air-to-air refuelling capability, which is essential for aircraft to cross greater distances and remain within a battlespace for longer, without the need to land. The training has provided Indonesian Air Force F-16 pilots with valued air-to-air refuelling currency.”

Flying in Indonesian airspace, the activity involved the KC-30A deploying its Advanced Refuelling Boom System to connect a refuelling receptacle on each Indonesian F-16 Fighting Falcon. “The event was conducted during the day and night which challenged all aviators to refine their skills through practical training for any situation,” Group Captain Taylor said.

This training also benefits Australia and Indonesia with regular bilateral and multilateral air exercises between the countries, including Exercises Elang AUSINDO and Pitch Black.