The RAAF will buy two more KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transports after the government authorised the more-than $400 million spend.
The two additional KC-30A aircraft, which will boost the RAAF’s fleet to seven, will be delivered in 2018 and provide a substantial increase to the air-to-air refuelling capacity.
Defence has signed an update to the existing acquisition contract with Airbus Defence and Space for the two aircraft and associated conversion at a cost of approximately AUD $408m.
These ‘new’ aircraft will be based on two previously-owned Qantas Airways A330-200 airliners which will be converted by Airbus Defence and Space in Spain.
The RAAF decided to use these particular aircraft as they are extremely close to the same basic specification as the KC-30As already in service.
Each KC-30A has a fuel capacity of more than 100 tonnes, and can offload fuel via the 17-metre-long Aerial Refuelling Boom System or the two hose-and-drogue refuelling pods.
The aircraft is capable of refuelling F/A-18A/B Hornets, F/A-18F Super Hornets, E-7A Wedgetail, C-17A Globemasters and other KC-30A aircraft.
In the future it will refuel EA-18G Growler, P-8A Poseidon and the F-35A (Joint Strike Fighter) providing a force-multiplier so aircraft can remain on station longer and extend their range.
One RAAF KC-30A continues to play an important role in the Middle East region as part of Operation OKRA, refuelling Australian and a growing number of Coalition fighter aircraft.
Since September 2014, the KC-30A deployed to Operation OKRA has delivered more than 10,800 tonnes of fuel.
The additional two aircraft will be based at RAAF Base Amberley.