The Royal Australian Air Force’s No.33 Squadron (33QN) has conducted a world first “elephant walk” with five KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transports (MRTTs) at RAAF Base Amberley.
33SQN conducted the feat with five aircraft, with a row of KC-30As stretched over 500 metres of RAAF Base Amberley taxiway.
It was made possible thanks to significant improvements to how 33SQN plans maintenance for the KC-30A fleet, providing greater aircraft availability for missions.
Following the elephant walk, four of the aircraft took off from Amberley on separate missions.
These included air-to-air refuelling training, flight test development, and airlift tasks to support volunteer firefighters combating bushfires in NSW.
Of the squadron’s remaining two aircraft, one flew on a mission in the Middle East region for Operation Okra, and the other was in scheduled heavy maintenance.
Group Captain Steve Pesce, Officer Commanding No. 86 Wing, said the KC-30A elephant walk demonstrated an immense strategic capability for Defence.
“Launching five KC-30A aircraft demonstrates a capacity to concurrently transport over 1,000 passengers or ferry more than 40 Hornets across Australia,” GPCAPT Pesce said.
“Alternatively, five aircraft could position 1,800 kilometres from base and offload 250 tonnes of fuel to receivers over four hours.
"The capacity to project this magnitude of air power at range has previously been beyond Air Force.”
An elephant walk is an aviation term that dates back to World War II, when massed formations of Allied bombers would taxi to the runway for take-off.