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RAAF KC-30s begin air-to-air refuelling trials

written by australianaviation.com.au | November 29, 2011

A KC-30A MRTT of the RAAF’s 33SQN commenced air-to-air refuelling trials with an F/A-18B Hornet from the Edinburgh based Aircraft Research and Development Unit (ARDU) on October 18.

The trials, including wet and dry hook ups, took place between KC-30A A39-003 and ARDU’s resident F/A-18B A21-101 test aircraft, and saw the start of trials which are expected to lead up to a partial clearance for operational hose and drogue contacts from December.

The refuelling trials are expected to continue throughout 2012 as additional KC-30A crews are trained, and the refuelling flight envelope is expanded and additional RAAF types such as the F/A-18F Super Hornet are cleared to take fuel from the MRTT. Initial Operating Capability (IOC) is currently slated for late 2012.

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The first MRTT entered service with 33SQN earlier this year following a two year delay in the aircraft’s development. Since then, two more aircraft have been delivered, and a fourth – the first MRTT built which has just completed an extensive refurbishment at Airbus and Iberia in Spain – is expected in the coming weeks. The fifth and last KC-30A is currently being converted from its standard A330-200 configuration into an MRTT at Qantas Defence Services’ (QDS) facility at Brisbane Airport, and is expected to be delivered in mid 2012.

A Youtube clip of the trials can be viewed here.

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