The RAAF’s newest and largest aircraft has made its debut in a multi-national exercise, flying out of RAAF Base Townsville as part of Exercise Pitch Black 12.
The KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport, a heavily modified Airbus A330 airliner, has taken on light duties refuelling F/A-18 Hornet fighters as part of its run-up to initial operating capability, expected later this year.
“While we have a limited level of involvement in Pitch Black, we are conducting this deployment away from our home base to help prepare for future exercises and operations,” Wing Commander Geoff Fox, commanding officer of RAAF Amberley-based 33 Squadron, said in a statement.
As part of the three-week, six-nation Pitch Black exercise over the Northern Territory, the KC-30A will conduct airborne refuelling missions with FA/-18s using its hose-and-drogue wing-mounted pods.
“We can take off from a base and fly to a position 1,800km away, and remain in that airspace for four hours with 50 tonnes of fuel available for other aircraft,” Wing Commander Fox said. “In a big country like Australia, we are an extremely important capability for helping other aircraft do their job.”
Declaration of IOC will allow the RAAF’s KC-30As to move on to strategic transport and boom-refuelling missions, Wing Commander Fox added. “Future Pitch Black exercises will see the KC-30A refuelling more aircraft, including the Super Hornet, Wedgetail, and some of our international partners,” he said.
The RAAF has taken delivery of four KC-30As since mid-2011 and expects to receive its fifth and final aircraft by the end of this year.