The operational capability of the Royal Australian Air Force’s KC-30A Multi Role Tanker Transport fleet has taken another important step forward with the first operational refuelling of fighter aircraft with the tanker’s advanced Aerial Refuelling Boom System.
CAPTION: A 480th Fighter Squadron “Warhawks” F-16C flies alongside after refuelling from a RAAF KC-30A MRTT over the Middle East. Photo by Corporal Nicci Freeman
The boom was used to successfully refuel two United States Air Force F-16C Fighting Falcon single-engine multirole fighters from the 480th Fighter Squadron during a mission in support of counter-Daesh operations in the Middle East region.
Commencement of F-16 refuelling broadens the tanker’s ability to support the US-led multi-national coalition in the fight against Daesh in Iraq and Syria.
Commander Air Task Group, Air Commodore Phil Gordon said the milestone had further enhanced Australia’s reputation in the coalition environment.
“The KC-30A is highly regarded by the coalition in theatre due to its high reliability and excellent hose-and-drogue refuelling capability,” Air Commodore Gordon said.
“The introduction of a boom-refuelling capability for USAF F-16s further enhances the utility of the KC-30A in the coalition fight against Daesh.”
“The flexibility of having both types of air-to-air refuelling systems means the Australian KC-30A can be rapidly re-tasked airborne to support a greater proportion of fighters if their scheduled tanker is unavailable.
“The Australian crews operate with high situational awareness to ensure they are in the right place at the right time to assist the fighters.
“With the introduction of the boom capability there will now be a large number of USAF F-16’s able to experience the excellent service provided by our Australian tanker capability.”
The KC-30A achieved Initial Operating Capability (IOC) in December 2013, and then rapidly deployed to the Middle East as part of Operation OKRA in September 2014..