The latest rotation of the Royal Australian Air Force KC-30A multi role tanker transport aircraft has returned to Australia following a successful four-month deployment to the Middle East.
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The aircraft completed 95 missions, equating to 776 hours of flying over Iraq and Syria, refuelling coalition strike aircraft with 5.6 million pounds of fuel. Commander of the Australian Air Task Element, Wing Commander Craig Stallard, said the tanker’s contribution was highly valued by coalition partners.
"Over the last four months, the KC-30A carried out air-to-air refuelling operations with American, British, French and Italian fighter aircraft," WGCDR Stallard said.
The KC-30A can support the deployment of four fighter aircraft over 5,000 kilometres and has the versatility to refuel a broad range of aircraft types.
Director of Coalition Air Operations, US Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Fletcher, said the KC-30A contribution had been warmly received.
"The KC-30A’s air-to-air refuelling has meant that we can provide our strike aircraft with more time in the area of operations," he said.
Coinciding with the return to Australia of the KC-30A, an E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control aircraft arrived in the Middle East in early October.
The E-7A controls the tactical movement of aircraft over Iraq and Syria to ensure safety and mission success.
The Australian Defence Force deploys the Wedgetail and the KC-30A to the Middle East on a rotational basis as part of Australia’s contribution to the fight against Daesh.
The KC-30A MRTT is fitted with two forms of air-to-air refuelling systems: an advanced refuelling boom system mounted on the tail of the aircraft and a pair of all-electric refuelling pods under each wing.
These systems are controlled by an air refuelling operator in the cockpit, who can view refuelling on 2D and 3D screens. The KC-30A can carry a fuel load of more than 100 tonnes, and transfer part of that load to compatible aircraft, including:
- F/A-18A/B Hornets;
- F/A-18F Super Hornets;
- E/A-18G Growlers;
- E-7A Wedgetails;
- C-17A Globemaster III; and
- Other KC-30As.
The KC-30A MRTT can remain 1,800 kilometres from its home base, with 50 tonnes of fuel available to offload for up to four hours. In its transport role, the KC-30A is capable of carrying 270 passengers. It comes with under-floor cargo compartments that can accommodate 34,000 kilograms of military and civilian cargo pallets and containers.