The fleet is one step closer to full operational capability after demonstrating air-to-air refuelling capacity with a KC-30A Multi Role Tanker Transport.
A surveillance aircraft has, for the first time, refuelled the Royal Australian Air Force’s P-8A Poseidon fleet with an air-to-air KC-30A MRTT.
The KC-30A departed RAAF Amberley with its 11-metre advanced refuelling boom system for seven refuelling flights between 22 September and 1 October, meeting the P-8A Poseidon — which departed from RAAF Base Edinburgh’s No. 92 Wing — at designated training airspace off the coast of Queensland.
Captain of the P-8A Poseidon Squadron Leader Chris Godfrey said the refuelling flights involved “extensive planning”.
“The execution of air-to-air refuelling requires extensive planning and training in both the simulator and airborne environment,” SQNLDR Godfrey said.
“This included rigorous training scenarios to ensure we were ready for the demanding aerial refuelling flights.”
During the missions, crews of both aircraft were required to ensure connections were secure to allow for the proper transfer of fuel, while No. 92 Wing and No. 33 Squadron aircrews maintained communications on the ground.
“Fundamentally, it’s a team effort both in the air and on the ground,” SQNLDR Godfrey added.
“This included our No. 11 Squadron maintenance personnel who worked long hours over the past couple of months to ensure the serviceability of the aircraft for the aerial refuelling flights.
“I was incredibly proud to play a part in the mission and operate within such an effective and focused team.”
Officer Commanding No. 92 Wing Group Captain John Grime said the refuelling flights were an important step towards full operational capability.
“The missions represent a significant achievement for the RAAF P-8A fleet on our path to final operational capability,” GPCAPT Grime said.
“It enhances the existing operational effectiveness of the aircraft’s long-range surveillance capabilities, extending the endurance and radius of action of the platform.”
GPCAPT Grime also noted the contributions of No. 92 and 86 Wing.
“The strong partnership with No. 33 Squadron’s KC-30A team demonstrates our ability to integrate fifth-generation capabilities and strengthens our air power contribution for the joint force,” he added.
Officer Commanding No. 86 Wing Group Captain Anthony Bull said RAAF KC-30A crews had benefited from previous refuelling trials with US Navy P-8As.
“Adding RAAF’s P-8A Poseidon to our scope of support reinforces the value of the KC-30A in the battlespace,” GPCAPT Bull said.
“It delivers an extremely agile capability across multiple platforms in support of operations at home and abroad.”
An Air Combat Group AAA Learjet acted as the photographic chase aircraft, capturing the RAAF P-8A Poseidon’s inaugural air-to-air refuelling missions.