The RAAF’s 33 Squadron, which operates the five KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport aircraft, has been placed under the operational command and control of 86 Wing. The change comes as the Wing receives a new officer commanding, Group Captain Guy Wilson.
On taking up his new post, Wilson said 33SQN had demonstrated its ability to provide strategic airlift and air-to-air refuelling with the KC-30A “despite numerous developmental challenges” – a reference to the ongoing development and testing of the aircraft’s refuelling boom.
In early 2013, the RAAF declared IOC (initial operational capability) with the KC-30A, clearing it to conduct strategic airlift and air-to-air refuelling with its hose-and-drogue refuelling system.
Future development work for the KC-30A, including achievement of IOC for the KC-30A’s troubled boom system, will be pursued by the Air-to-Air Refuelling Project Office in Canberra, for which 86 Wing and 33SQN will provide personnel and input. The ongoing work is expected to be completed in late 2014.
86 Wing is already responsible for 36SQN at RAAF Base Amberley, which operates the RAAF’s fleet of C-17As, and 38SQN at RAAF Townsville, which operates the King Air light transport aircraft.
“The arrival of No. 33 Squadron now consolidates No. 86 Wing’s role as primarily the ‘heavy airlift wing’ for Air Force, whilst also providing Defence its air-to-air refuelling capability,” Wilson said.
Wilson replaces Group Captain Paul Nicholas who will now move into a new role as Defence Attache (Air) at the Australian High Commission in London.