Australia’s fourth KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport has been formally handed over to the RAAF, though the aircraft will remain in Spain for testing until later this year.
Deliveries of the tanker, based on the Airbus A330-200, began last year after a two year delay. The RAAF’s fifth and final KC-30A is expected to be delivered by the third quarter of this year, Airbus said.
The fourth aircraft was converted from standard A330 configuration by EADS in Spain, where it served as the development aircraft for the KC-30 program (during which it lost a boom during testing in early 2011). The other four KC-30s have been or are being converted at Qantas Defence Services’ facility at Brisbane Airport.
In their RAAF configuration, the aircraft are equipped with two underwing refuelling pods, the fly-by-wire Airbus Military Aerial Refuelling Boom System (ARBS), and a Universal Aerial Refuelling Receptacle Slipway Installation (UARRSI) that enables the KC-30A to be refuelled from another tanker. Powered by twin General Electric CF6-80E engines, the aircraft are equipped with a suite of defensive countermeasures and fitted with 270 passenger seats.
Air-to-air refuelling trials of the KC-30A began in October at the Edinburgh based Aircraft Research and Development Unit. IOC is scheduled for late 2012.