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Singapore Air Force completes automatic air-to-air refuelling trials

The Republic of Singapore Air Force has successfully completed an automatic air-to-air refuelling flight test campaign with cooperation from European multinational aerospace corporation Airbus.

The Republic of Singapore Air Force has successfully completed an automatic air-to-air refuelling flight test campaign with cooperation from European multinational aerospace corporation Airbus.

The RSAF refuelled F-15SG Strike Eagle air-to-ground fighter jet aircraft with an Airbus A330 multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) across more than 500 automated wet and dry contacts.

The flight tests with F-15SG were conducted in Singapore, covering the whole operational air-to-air refuelling envelope in different weather conditions under the supervision of Spanish certifying authority National Institute for Aerospace Technology.

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“The A330 MRTT has made the future of air-to-air refuelling a reality as a result of the joint efforts of Airbus and the Republic of Singapore Air Force,” according to Airbus Defence and Space military air systems head Jean-Brice Dumont.

“This new milestone will enable the RSAF to become the first air force in the world to have a boom automatic refuelling capability with all of its receivers, a capability that can be extended to refuelling receivers from other nations.”

During the test campaign, further flights were carried out in night conditions with F-15s as well as the RSAF’s A330 MRTT and F-16s as receivers for data collection, to complete the development and enable night capabilities with the automated system.

In July 2022, the A330 MRTT became the world’s first tanker certified for automatic air-to-air refuelling operations in daylight conditions with F-16s and A330 MRTTs as receivers.

The automatic refuelling system reduces air refuelling operator workload, improves safety, and optimises the air-to-air refuelling transfer rate in operational conditions to maximise air superiority.

Combat proven since 2014, the Airbus A330 MRTT is certified for aerial refuelling with both boom and hose-and-drogue systems for F-15, F-16, F-35, A330 MRTT, AWACS, Eurofighter, and other aircraft.

Late last year, Australia’s fifth-generation stealth fighter aircraft, the F-35A Lightning II, participated in a military exercise with counterparts in Singapore for the first time.

Personnel from the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) No. 75 Squadron operated the aircraft in Singapore for the first time, deployed out of Paya Lebar Air Base. Aircraft crew trained alongside counterparts from the RSAF, engaging in both air and ground-based activities, designed to bolster bilateral defence ties.

The exercise also aimed to enhance interoperability between the RSAF’s fourth-generation F-15SG Strike Eagles and F-16 Fighting Falcons, and the RAAF’s fifth-generation F-35A aircraft.

The bilateral engagement also involved aviator-to-aviator discussions during a fighter symposium hosted by RSAF’s No. 142 Squadron, which aimed to provide the RSAF with an in-depth understanding of the logistical and maintenance requirements of operating the F-35 platform.

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