Close sidebar

Defence Minister flags additional KC-30s, C-17s

written by australianaviation.com.au | August 18, 2014
Two RAAF C-17s and a KC-30 at Eindhoven, the Netherlands for MH17 support. (Defence)
Two RAAF C-17s and a KC-30 at Eindhoven, the Netherlands for MH17 support. (Defence)

Defence Minister Senator David Johnston has flagged the acquisition of further Airbus KC-30 tanker-transports and Boeing C-17 airlifters for the RAAF.

Speaking to News Limited’s Ian McPhederan last week, Minister Johnston suggested the next Defence White Paper, due for release next year, will propose the acquisition of two extra KC-30As and one or two additional C-17s. One of the KC-30s would also feature a VIP interior for international travel by the prime minister.

“When you get good service from a platform it prompts you to say, ‘why don’t you get some more?’ ” the Minister was reported as saying during an interview aboard a KC-30 bound for Darwin.

Advertisement
Advertisement

“It [the KC-30] allows us to go anywhere in our region and far and away beyond that.”

The report also quotes the Minister as saying acquiring addional C-17s is a “no-brainer”.

The RAAF currently operates five KC-30A tanker-transports with 33SQN and six C-17s with 36SQN, with both units based at Amberley.

Acquiring additional KC-30As “makes sense”, Australian Aviation contributor Andrew McLaughlin writes in the September issue of the magazine, out late next week. “The KC-30 program is coming good, the boom and pod hardware and software remediation development is wrapping up, a new software load is expected to fix many of the minor idiosyncrasies and work-arounds of the original design, and the aircraft has proved its strategic reach in recent ALS (air logistics support) taskings to the US and Europe, and on long-endurance tanking missions in Australia,” he writes.

PROMOTED CONTENT

Separately, Minister Johnston remarked in Darwin last week that “I am optimistic this aircraft will soon be removed from the Projects of Concern”. (The KC-30 acquisition is being managed under the Defence Material Organisation’s ‘Projects of Concern’ process due to issues with the aircraft’s refuelling boom system, which are close to being rectified.)

As well as Australia, the KC-30 (known outside Australia as the A330 MRTT) has been ordered by Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom.

Australia has a unique, but limited, opportunity to secure additional C-17s, meanwhile. Boeing has commenced assembly of its 269th and last C-17 at its Long Beach, California plant, with production due to wind up next year. However, the company is building 15 “white tail” aircraft without a customer to date. India (which already has 10 on order) is reportedly interested in six of these, and Boeing remains in ongoing discussions with existing C-17 operators and potential new customers regarding the remaining aircraft.

 

Steer your own in-flight experience – available on print and digital Whether our classic glossy magazine in your letterbox, daily news updates in your inbox, peeling back a few layers in the podcast or our monthly current affair reports, you can count on us to keep you up to date. Sign up today for just $99.95 for more exclusive offers here. Subscribe now at australianaviation.com.au.

32 Comments

  • William

    says:

    Can you have too much airlift?

  • Andy

    says:

    Will two C-17 be enough ? Four would be better! And four KC-30 and two C-30 for VIP – transport. Thus giving RAAF more Airlift ability.

  • Michael

    says:

    Interesting that if we buy the two C-17s our fleet size will be the same as the RAFs. Would that be because they are acquiring the A400M which can take a much large percentage of the C-17s payload and cargo volume compared to the C-130, the Brits are tight for money or a both?

  • Michael

    says:

    Any idea why the RAF have not fitted a boom and boom receptacle to their A330 MRTTs like we have? Seems a very short sighted move given the extra flexibility it gives and with Operation Black Buck still fresh in some people’s minds over there.

  • BH

    says:

    @William..
    No I don’t think the RAAF will ever have too much airlift…
    The extra C17s would be a smart buy and given that the line is closing its either do or die for that capability for the foreseeable future..
    The next question is how much more hard stand space are they going to need at Amberley..?

  • John Harrison

    says:

    Sounds like a great idea, but isn’t Boeing winding down the production of the C17’s, we might have to be quick to get some more. As for one AB330 as a VIP, long over due seeing our Prime Minster jetting around the world in a B737 seems a bit “naff” Bigger is better for sure.

  • Stuart

    says:

    You can never have too much Airlift Capability… The only problem is where to house them, as I believe Amberley is close to being full, when all the C17’s are home.

    As for for only 1 x VIP configured A330, they should get 2.

    We have had a more than one occassion, the B737 breaking down, either before takeoff or during a trip.
    This way, the RAAF can have a Backup Aircraft at All Times.

    Also, these VIP A330’s need to be Air to Air Refuelable, so they can operate Non-stop into Europe and USA.

  • Peter Clark

    says:

    Don’t forget the RNZAF might be looking at a white tail.
    Be the perfect aircraft to operate along side the RAAF.
    The RNZAF needs a larger heavy lift now, and the C-17 with the Australians is really the only way to go.

  • Damien

    says:

    Good to read about the extra airlift capability. It’s something we lacked back in the 90’s when I served with the RAAF on the C-130’s – we never had enough C-130’s to go around. If 9 C-17s are available, maybe NZ could get 3-4 to supplement/replace their C-130’s (50 years young) and the RAAF could get the rest. Parking may be an issue but maybe another SQN could be activated at another base with room like Pearce or Edinburgh.

    Two VIP KC-30’s would be smarter to allow for maintenance to occur, also maybe another 2 KC-30’s making the total 4, can never have enough tankers either.

  • Bill

    says:

    I think that the DMO should try and get their hands on as many C-17’s as they can since this will be the last opportunity. Otherwise A400 is about the only other option, and its half the capacity.

    On the tanker front, with potentially 100 F-35’s coming our way and it being short range more tankers is a no-brainer. At least five more is in order, and I think that VIP and tanker ops should be kept separate. Its effectively saying we’ve got “X” KC-30’s to use, but one of them is permanently utilised carting our political masters around. And what happens when it is actually needed in combat? Ring QANTAS?

  • Alan Griffiths

    says:

    Obviously we can make use of more airlift, but might it not be a good idea that we buy the next 2 KC-30’s with side cargo doors, strengthened floors etc., so that they can be used for pallet transport, rather than just as seated passengers. Their operating speed would enable us to handle such freight needs quickly into suitable airstrips, freeing the C-17’s for the more difficult strips. We can reconfigure 1 or 2 of the existing standard floor/door aircraft for VIP.

  • Peter Ferguson

    says:

    New Zealand could not afford to buy a single C-17, their air force is made up a couple of old Hercs. I think the RAAF will end up with 10 c-17s. Excellent news about more KC-30s.

  • ngatimozart

    says:

    The RNZAF will not get the C17 because we do not have enough airlift need to justify a C17. However the A400M is another story and that, in my humble opinion, would be a very worthwhile acquisition for the RNZAF. Four, preferably five aircraft would be ideal. A Future RNZAF Airlift Study is being conducted at the moment which is to inform the proposed 2015 Defence White Paper. However there is the little matter of a General Election on 20th September 2014 and if Tane current govt is reelected the the DWP will go ahead. If there is a change of govt then the future of the 2015 DWP is uncertain. The Future RNZAF Air Transport Study will also probably suggest replacement or non replacement of the B757. If we do decide to replace those aircraft with something similar, like Australia we have the range issue, in fact more so. Some suggest the B737-800 but it doesn’t have the range nor capability of the current B757, so my personal view is if we are going to go down that track then we need to bite the bullet and look at a KC30 without the air to air refuelling capability. Finally the third part of the project is the Andover replacement and I would suggest that if they go with the A400 then we will get the C295. If they decide to go with the C130J that in my view would be a big mistake because it physically limits our air lift capabilities.

  • ngatimozart

    says:

    @Peter Ferguson. Check your facts. Currently the RNZAF operates five C130s. They started out as H models and three have been converted to C130H(NZ) with the fourth due out of the SLEP next month and the fifth next year. They now have digital flight decks that bring them up to the current international standard. The RNZAF also operate two B757-200 Combi aircraft. That’s just 40 Sqn.

  • Dave Soderstrom

    says:

    A fantastic move by the Government and the ADF, with the ADF being called upon more and more for humanitarian roles and for crisis/natural disasters and the like. The RAAF is poised to be in the best position in the region for the support and logistics role.

  • Darren

    says:

    I agree the extra C-17’s is a pretty good idea. It just makes good sense. They have really proved themselves. I agree with the earlier comment about re configuring 1-2 existing KC-30A with VIP interior and getting the next 4 (my number) with the cargo door and main floor freight with a combo option to increase versatility. As for the space problem the fleets seem so busy they are never home, however perhaps a FOB style arrangement could be made with the Tankers rotating at Tindal/Williamtown, VIPs at Canberra with Airlift at Richmond/Darwin. Alternatively buy shares in the local concrete provider!

  • Paul

    says:

    My submission to the Defence MInisters response in an interview regarding more C-17s and KC-30 for the RAAF on Australian Aviation online

    Given that the USAF is stating that the air to air refueling of the requirements for the JSF will be greater than any other of its teen series aircraft this is fantastic news for the RAAF with its projected 100 airframes of this 5th Generation fighter. The ability to carry personnel and cargo in addition to fuel demonstrates the value in aircraft such as the RAAF KC-30.

    Personally I would like to see a move to either get more C-27Js and even have the firefighting and gunship palliated modules to further ensure greater versatility. The RAAF C-130-30J Hercules have worked hard and I wonder if a strategy aimed at their early retirement and then acquisition of the C-130-30J Super Hercules II would be of benefit. Hopefully this would see Defence and Government encourage New Zealand to come into the buy and has cross Tasmin training and reduction in support cost etc. NZ unfortunately did not take up the offer of a reduced cost purchase of the J Model with the RAAF in the past and chose to go down the expensive cost of refurbishing their rather old H Models.

    I am not opposed to the A400M but it still has a long way to go to mature, and is in reality a capability found in between the Hercules and Globemaster

    Amberley certainly needs to have a better means of caring for its C-17s and KC-30 than parking them out in the elements as happens now! Large hailstones and other weather events alone will certainly not be in their interest!

  • John N

    says:

    Can you have too much airlift?

    Probably not, but lets hope that the money being found for these acquisitions isn’t coming at the expense of some other needed capability and is in fact ‘new’ money.

    If another one (better if two) C-17A’s can be obtained, that will be great, it will certainly secure the RAAF’s ability to move a lot of gear a very long way for a very long time too, smart move.

    And it’s probably a smart move too to obtain another couple of KC-30A’s as ‘dual’ replacements for the BBJ’s and at the same time increasing the AAR tanker fleet, I still wonder if two is enough for both expanding the AAR fleet and also performing VIP duties too?

    Going back into the past when the original 5 KC-30A’s were ordered, there was an option (which lapsed) for another three airframes, if exercised, it would have seen a fleet of 8 airframes in service in the MRTT role.

    I would imagine that one of the two new airframes will be spending a lot of time based in Canberra hauling pollies around, which really means that there is the addition of one airframe (for most of the time), available for tanking and other general transport duties.

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s good news to hear of the probable purchase of another two KC-30A’s, but with the ‘original’ option looking at three extra airframes, and now adding VIP duties too, three would probably have been a better outcome.

    Basing and infrastructure, that’s going to be interesting. As others have mentioned, Amberley would appear to require some ‘significant’ amounts of money spent upgrading and expanding facilities, hardstands and possibly additional hangars to house and maintain the new C-17’s and KC-30’s.

    Maybe the RAAF can look at maintaining a ‘flight’ of, say, two KC-30’s at Tindal or Darwin, yes no doubt that creates additional cost and strains on the Sqn, but maybe that is also a way of reducing the expenditure that would be required at Amberley and having aircraft with the Tindal based fighter Sqn.

    Should the two KC-30A’s be delivered with the cargo upgrade and cargo door? Maybe not necessary, especially with the addition of extra C-17’s and also having to maintain a couple of ‘orphans’ in the fleet, maybe it’s not an expense that needs to be made or is absolutely necessary.

    Air Mobility Group has certainly done well in recent years, and in the near future, with all it’s new ‘big’ toys, but maybe, as has also been mentioned, some thought should be given to increasing the capabilities of the ‘lower’ end of AMG’s capabilities by expanding the number of C-27J’s by a few more airframes (and some more CH-47F’s for Army) too.

    Cheers,

    John N

  • B. Harrison

    says:

    A squadron of 10 C-17’s and a squadron of 10 KC-30’s would be an excellent mix with the C130J’s and C27J’s.

  • Peter

    says:

    Re John N’s comments – I have to agree. At the time when the 5 KC-30’S were ordered ( with options for a further 3 ), the current 6 C-17s weren’t publicly envisaged, and the 8 ( + 4 optional ) P-8 Poseidons obviously hadn’t been ordered either. Both of these are air-to-air re-fueling capable. In about 6-7 years time, our fast jet fleet will be 72 F-35s, 24 Supers & 12 Growlers = 108 front line fast jets.
    Count them :-
    8 C-17s, 8-12 P-8s, 108 fast jets – all air-to-air refuelling capable.
    33 Hawk 127’s that need to practice air-to-air refuelling ( it can’t all be done on sims )

    5 KC-30As + maybe 2 more, with one sidelined for VIP regularly – obviously not enough, and that’s without cargo & volume passenger roles
    Cheers Peter

  • Bill

    says:

    I completely agree with John N’s statement. The original KC-30 acquisition found that five was the bare minimum number *at the time*, and as such with the imminent arrival of F-35 and the greater reliance on tankers this aircraft will have (especially if a fleet of 100 is to be had), and by the time maintenance allowances are made, that leaves a fighting force of just 5 frames leaving one spare for Canberra’s personal use. Not enough. Although the addition of the VIP interior may be a way of softening the deal in these tighter monetary times, IMHO it isn’t the right way forward.

    On the question of the main deck cargo door; I guess that depends on whether or not the C-17’s are flying palletised cargo around, chewing up valuable airframe hours and cycles, when the cargo could be more efficiently shifted in “Freight” KC-30’s. Utilising the KC-30 for such work would surely be more cost effective (no one took up any civilianised C-17’s due to its less than favourable economics, but A330F’s are plying their trade now).

  • BH

    says:

    With regard to the extra KC-30s, I remember a year or so ago the RAAF said that while the freighter option was now available, they’d prefer not to convert them as it would likely lead to them being drawn away from their intended purpose. If you want a freighter then buy more C17s.
    The same response could probably be expected if suggestions were raised that the extra KC-30s were to be acquired as direct replacements for the BBJs.
    I think that if extras are ordered, the VIP fitout would only be used for the less frequent longer distance overseas deployments. The BBJs and CL604s should be replaced with similar types and continue to provide the bulk of the VIP capacity. One thing I am curious about, given the recent stories about the waste in unnecessary VIP flights is how often do the BBJs fly around Australia half full..?
    Should the RAAF be looking at something a bit bigger than a CL604 to provide better efficiency…?

  • William

    says:

    Would you want the PM flying around in a tanker though? I think a purchase of 2 A330-200s in a VIP configuration or a Pair of KC-30s without the boom but still fitted for the tanking with the hose would be a better option. That way you’d have commonality with the main fleet save for the paint job and boom.

  • John N

    says:

    Peter and Bill,

    Apart from all the aircraft that you mentioned about being A2A capable, let’s not forget the 6 E-7A Wedgetails and of course the ability of the KC-30A’s to refuel each other too.

    There is another issue to consider too about the VIP tasked airframe, what happens if for some technical reason the aircraft becomes unserviceable? As does happen with aircraft from time to time, then I’d imagine that a ‘back up’ would have to be available and on standby at all times, just in case!

    I’d love to know what the percentage ‘split’ will be between an aircraft being tasked for VIP vs general MRTT duties, would it be at least 50% of the time? More? In that case the ‘standby’ aircraft would probably also have to follow that percentage split too.

    Again I think we all can agree that the addition of another two airframes is great news, but equally I think it’s clear that, with also taking on VIP duties, an extra two just doesn’t quiet seem to be as good a decision as it first appears.

    As for the Cargo door configuration, not saying we shouldn’t consider, but considering the massive increase in AMG’s capabilities in recent years, even excluding the possible extra C-17’s and KC-30’s that will probably start arriving over the next couple of years (and lets not also forget the C-130’s and C-27’s are available for cargo duties too), I think AMG is in a pretty dammed good position to be able to max and match airframes to all sorts of requirements that it is presented with.

    The other issue about going down the path of a cargo door configuration is, that we may also end up being the ‘launch’ customer again with all the extra time, cost and development issues that would possibly follow. I know the French Air Force is going to have a ‘cargo’ version, but from what I’ve read, their aircraft configured with the cargo door have been deferred and will come at the end after they receive ‘standard’ configuration first.

    As for the VIP fit out, you would imagine that it would have to be ‘modular’ so that it could be swapped from airframe to airframe, and that anyone of the fleet could be converted to all passenger (as is currently the case) to split VIP and passenger configuration when required.

    Cheers,

    John N

  • Raymond

    says:

    Two extra C-17’s – quick, before the ‘white tails’ are all accounted for – and three more KC-30’s – two with VIP interiors to replace the two 737 BBJ’s – on order please Mr. Johnston.

  • John N

    says:

    Raymond,

    I would suspect that if the Def Min is ‘publically’ talking about the inclusion of 1-2 more C-17A’s in next year’s DWP, then I’m sure that discussions with Boeing are probably already underway, I couldn’t imagine that they would want to look stupid and say ‘oops, we left it too late, we missed out!’.

    We may not necessarily have an ‘official’ announcement before mid next year (when the DWP is due), but I wouldn’t mind betting that there is a ‘reserved’ sign on a couple of the airframes!

  • Stuart

    says:

    Further to my Comments made 18th August, I have noted since that the Japan Self Defense Force has ordered 2 x B777-300ER for their VIP Requirments, which will be maintained by ANA.

    The decision is go with B777-330ER, was to allow for the greater Range (over the KC30A) and space/weight issues with fitting the suite of Communications equipment required.

    Given that the US will go down this path as well at some stage, when they replace the current VC-25 why don’t we also look at these, given our geographic location, have the furtherest to travel to the major Centres like Washington and Europe for our PM and the Reporters?

    I know this then creates issues with mixed fleet, but gives max range by some distance (approx 4000kms over the KC30A), if we don’t air- to Air fuel the PM’s jet.

  • John N

    says:

    Stuart,

    I don’t think the issue is just about extending the ‘range’ of the VIP aircraft and whether the PM’s jet is capable of being air refuelled itself (which would require an accompanying A2A aircraft to allow a flight to go direct to London for example), I’m sure the ‘normal’ land based refuelling locations around the globe will be more than sufficient for long range flights.

    It’s more about the Government trying to ‘kill two birds with the one stone’, on the one hand there is a requirement for the 2 x BBJ’s of the VIP fleet to be replaced with larger, longer ranging more capable jets, and on the other hand a desire / requirement / need for the KC-30A fleet to increase in size. As has been mentioned, there was originally a plan / option, for the KC-30A fleet to eventually be 8 airframes, three more than currently in service.

    So what does the Government do in these ‘fiscally challenged’ times? How does it be a bit more ‘creative’ in it’s approach to fulfil both requirements?

    The smart answer is to acquire more KC-30A MRTT’s, fully configured for A2A and include a VIP interior (still probably better if it can be modular) so that they can have aircraft that are both capable of being used for VIP duties and also fully capable of being used ‘operationally’ in the MRTT role.

    I think the only outstanding question is, what is the right amount of airframes to fulfil both requirements?

    Five would be great (but never going to happen, not enough money). Four would be great too (but again never going to happen). Three is probably the right ‘balance’ between both requirements, two is probably a bit shy of being able to fulfil both requirements.

    I agree, the B777-300ER would make a great long range VIP aircraft, but unfortunately there just doesn’t appear to be enough money in the pot to fulfil both the VIP and expanded MRTT requirements, so compromise it is!!

    Cheers,

    John N

  • BH

    says:

    Has there been any confirmation that the KC-30/s with VIP fitout would be direct replacements for the BBJs or whether they would just be used on longer haul o/s travel…?
    If they are going to replace the BBJs, then given current usage of the BBJs domestically I think KC30s spending most of their time running the PM and his/her hangers-on around Australia is a gross waste. The current wastage of the BBJs is bad enough.
    The BBJ and CL604 fleet would be better replaced with one or two sizes of aircraft suitable for domestic and short haul domestic legs with a VIP mod’d KC30 providing only the less frequent longer haul international services..

  • Tim C 69

    says:

    agree with most comments, 3 x KC 30 -2 with boom/grey and one with 3 drogue points similar to RAF /also in VIP livery and additional 2 C17. add to that 2 Wedgetails and 2 additional C27 Spartans. Now about the PC 9 and Hawk replacements…I’m going with even split PS 21 and Macchi Masters/ 45 of each with COIN and light ground attack for both.

  • Tim C 69

    says:

    Also replace the 3 Bombadiers and 2 BBJ with 4 VIP
    /passenger versions of Embraer 195…

  • Tim C 69

    says:

    that’s 45 PC 21’s not PS-typo.

Leave a Comment to Dave Soderstrom Cancel

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Defence Minister flags additional KC-30s, C-17s

written by australianaviation.com.au | August 18, 2014
Two RAAF C-17s and a KC-30 at Eindhoven, the Netherlands for MH17 support. (Defence)
Two RAAF C-17s and a KC-30 at Eindhoven, the Netherlands for MH17 support. (Defence)

Defence Minister Senator David Johnston has flagged the acquisition of further Airbus KC-30 tanker-transports and Boeing C-17 airlifters for the RAAF.

Speaking to News Limited’s Ian McPhederan last week, Minister Johnston suggested the next Defence White Paper, due for release next year, will propose the acquisition of two extra KC-30As and one or two additional C-17s. One of the KC-30s would also feature a VIP interior for international travel by the prime minister.

“When you get good service from a platform it prompts you to say, ‘why don’t you get some more?’ ” the Minister was reported as saying during an interview aboard a KC-30 bound for Darwin.

Advertisement
Advertisement

“It [the KC-30] allows us to go anywhere in our region and far and away beyond that.”

The report also quotes the Minister as saying acquiring addional C-17s is a “no-brainer”.

The RAAF currently operates five KC-30A tanker-transports with 33SQN and six C-17s with 36SQN, with both units based at Amberley.

Acquiring additional KC-30As “makes sense”, Australian Aviation contributor Andrew McLaughlin writes in the September issue of the magazine, out late next week. “The KC-30 program is coming good, the boom and pod hardware and software remediation development is wrapping up, a new software load is expected to fix many of the minor idiosyncrasies and work-arounds of the original design, and the aircraft has proved its strategic reach in recent ALS (air logistics support) taskings to the US and Europe, and on long-endurance tanking missions in Australia,” he writes.

PROMOTED CONTENT

Separately, Minister Johnston remarked in Darwin last week that “I am optimistic this aircraft will soon be removed from the Projects of Concern”. (The KC-30 acquisition is being managed under the Defence Material Organisation’s ‘Projects of Concern’ process due to issues with the aircraft’s refuelling boom system, which are close to being rectified.)

As well as Australia, the KC-30 (known outside Australia as the A330 MRTT) has been ordered by Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom.

Australia has a unique, but limited, opportunity to secure additional C-17s, meanwhile. Boeing has commenced assembly of its 269th and last C-17 at its Long Beach, California plant, with production due to wind up next year. However, the company is building 15 “white tail” aircraft without a customer to date. India (which already has 10 on order) is reportedly interested in six of these, and Boeing remains in ongoing discussions with existing C-17 operators and potential new customers regarding the remaining aircraft.

 

Steer your own in-flight experience – available on print and digital Whether our classic glossy magazine in your letterbox, daily news updates in your inbox, peeling back a few layers in the podcast or our monthly current affair reports, you can count on us to keep you up to date. Sign up today for just $99.95 for more exclusive offers here. Subscribe now at australianaviation.com.au.

32 Comments

  • William

    says:

    Can you have too much airlift?

  • Andy

    says:

    Will two C-17 be enough ? Four would be better! And four KC-30 and two C-30 for VIP – transport. Thus giving RAAF more Airlift ability.

  • Michael

    says:

    Interesting that if we buy the two C-17s our fleet size will be the same as the RAFs. Would that be because they are acquiring the A400M which can take a much large percentage of the C-17s payload and cargo volume compared to the C-130, the Brits are tight for money or a both?

  • Michael

    says:

    Any idea why the RAF have not fitted a boom and boom receptacle to their A330 MRTTs like we have? Seems a very short sighted move given the extra flexibility it gives and with Operation Black Buck still fresh in some people’s minds over there.

  • BH

    says:

    @William..
    No I don’t think the RAAF will ever have too much airlift…
    The extra C17s would be a smart buy and given that the line is closing its either do or die for that capability for the foreseeable future..
    The next question is how much more hard stand space are they going to need at Amberley..?

  • John Harrison

    says:

    Sounds like a great idea, but isn’t Boeing winding down the production of the C17’s, we might have to be quick to get some more. As for one AB330 as a VIP, long over due seeing our Prime Minster jetting around the world in a B737 seems a bit “naff” Bigger is better for sure.

  • Stuart

    says:

    You can never have too much Airlift Capability… The only problem is where to house them, as I believe Amberley is close to being full, when all the C17’s are home.

    As for for only 1 x VIP configured A330, they should get 2.

    We have had a more than one occassion, the B737 breaking down, either before takeoff or during a trip.
    This way, the RAAF can have a Backup Aircraft at All Times.

    Also, these VIP A330’s need to be Air to Air Refuelable, so they can operate Non-stop into Europe and USA.

  • Peter Clark

    says:

    Don’t forget the RNZAF might be looking at a white tail.
    Be the perfect aircraft to operate along side the RAAF.
    The RNZAF needs a larger heavy lift now, and the C-17 with the Australians is really the only way to go.

  • Damien

    says:

    Good to read about the extra airlift capability. It’s something we lacked back in the 90’s when I served with the RAAF on the C-130’s – we never had enough C-130’s to go around. If 9 C-17s are available, maybe NZ could get 3-4 to supplement/replace their C-130’s (50 years young) and the RAAF could get the rest. Parking may be an issue but maybe another SQN could be activated at another base with room like Pearce or Edinburgh.

    Two VIP KC-30’s would be smarter to allow for maintenance to occur, also maybe another 2 KC-30’s making the total 4, can never have enough tankers either.

  • Bill

    says:

    I think that the DMO should try and get their hands on as many C-17’s as they can since this will be the last opportunity. Otherwise A400 is about the only other option, and its half the capacity.

    On the tanker front, with potentially 100 F-35’s coming our way and it being short range more tankers is a no-brainer. At least five more is in order, and I think that VIP and tanker ops should be kept separate. Its effectively saying we’ve got “X” KC-30’s to use, but one of them is permanently utilised carting our political masters around. And what happens when it is actually needed in combat? Ring QANTAS?

  • Alan Griffiths

    says:

    Obviously we can make use of more airlift, but might it not be a good idea that we buy the next 2 KC-30’s with side cargo doors, strengthened floors etc., so that they can be used for pallet transport, rather than just as seated passengers. Their operating speed would enable us to handle such freight needs quickly into suitable airstrips, freeing the C-17’s for the more difficult strips. We can reconfigure 1 or 2 of the existing standard floor/door aircraft for VIP.

  • Peter Ferguson

    says:

    New Zealand could not afford to buy a single C-17, their air force is made up a couple of old Hercs. I think the RAAF will end up with 10 c-17s. Excellent news about more KC-30s.

  • ngatimozart

    says:

    The RNZAF will not get the C17 because we do not have enough airlift need to justify a C17. However the A400M is another story and that, in my humble opinion, would be a very worthwhile acquisition for the RNZAF. Four, preferably five aircraft would be ideal. A Future RNZAF Airlift Study is being conducted at the moment which is to inform the proposed 2015 Defence White Paper. However there is the little matter of a General Election on 20th September 2014 and if Tane current govt is reelected the the DWP will go ahead. If there is a change of govt then the future of the 2015 DWP is uncertain. The Future RNZAF Air Transport Study will also probably suggest replacement or non replacement of the B757. If we do decide to replace those aircraft with something similar, like Australia we have the range issue, in fact more so. Some suggest the B737-800 but it doesn’t have the range nor capability of the current B757, so my personal view is if we are going to go down that track then we need to bite the bullet and look at a KC30 without the air to air refuelling capability. Finally the third part of the project is the Andover replacement and I would suggest that if they go with the A400 then we will get the C295. If they decide to go with the C130J that in my view would be a big mistake because it physically limits our air lift capabilities.

  • ngatimozart

    says:

    @Peter Ferguson. Check your facts. Currently the RNZAF operates five C130s. They started out as H models and three have been converted to C130H(NZ) with the fourth due out of the SLEP next month and the fifth next year. They now have digital flight decks that bring them up to the current international standard. The RNZAF also operate two B757-200 Combi aircraft. That’s just 40 Sqn.

  • Dave Soderstrom

    says:

    A fantastic move by the Government and the ADF, with the ADF being called upon more and more for humanitarian roles and for crisis/natural disasters and the like. The RAAF is poised to be in the best position in the region for the support and logistics role.

  • Darren

    says:

    I agree the extra C-17’s is a pretty good idea. It just makes good sense. They have really proved themselves. I agree with the earlier comment about re configuring 1-2 existing KC-30A with VIP interior and getting the next 4 (my number) with the cargo door and main floor freight with a combo option to increase versatility. As for the space problem the fleets seem so busy they are never home, however perhaps a FOB style arrangement could be made with the Tankers rotating at Tindal/Williamtown, VIPs at Canberra with Airlift at Richmond/Darwin. Alternatively buy shares in the local concrete provider!

  • Paul

    says:

    My submission to the Defence MInisters response in an interview regarding more C-17s and KC-30 for the RAAF on Australian Aviation online

    Given that the USAF is stating that the air to air refueling of the requirements for the JSF will be greater than any other of its teen series aircraft this is fantastic news for the RAAF with its projected 100 airframes of this 5th Generation fighter. The ability to carry personnel and cargo in addition to fuel demonstrates the value in aircraft such as the RAAF KC-30.

    Personally I would like to see a move to either get more C-27Js and even have the firefighting and gunship palliated modules to further ensure greater versatility. The RAAF C-130-30J Hercules have worked hard and I wonder if a strategy aimed at their early retirement and then acquisition of the C-130-30J Super Hercules II would be of benefit. Hopefully this would see Defence and Government encourage New Zealand to come into the buy and has cross Tasmin training and reduction in support cost etc. NZ unfortunately did not take up the offer of a reduced cost purchase of the J Model with the RAAF in the past and chose to go down the expensive cost of refurbishing their rather old H Models.

    I am not opposed to the A400M but it still has a long way to go to mature, and is in reality a capability found in between the Hercules and Globemaster

    Amberley certainly needs to have a better means of caring for its C-17s and KC-30 than parking them out in the elements as happens now! Large hailstones and other weather events alone will certainly not be in their interest!

  • John N

    says:

    Can you have too much airlift?

    Probably not, but lets hope that the money being found for these acquisitions isn’t coming at the expense of some other needed capability and is in fact ‘new’ money.

    If another one (better if two) C-17A’s can be obtained, that will be great, it will certainly secure the RAAF’s ability to move a lot of gear a very long way for a very long time too, smart move.

    And it’s probably a smart move too to obtain another couple of KC-30A’s as ‘dual’ replacements for the BBJ’s and at the same time increasing the AAR tanker fleet, I still wonder if two is enough for both expanding the AAR fleet and also performing VIP duties too?

    Going back into the past when the original 5 KC-30A’s were ordered, there was an option (which lapsed) for another three airframes, if exercised, it would have seen a fleet of 8 airframes in service in the MRTT role.

    I would imagine that one of the two new airframes will be spending a lot of time based in Canberra hauling pollies around, which really means that there is the addition of one airframe (for most of the time), available for tanking and other general transport duties.

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s good news to hear of the probable purchase of another two KC-30A’s, but with the ‘original’ option looking at three extra airframes, and now adding VIP duties too, three would probably have been a better outcome.

    Basing and infrastructure, that’s going to be interesting. As others have mentioned, Amberley would appear to require some ‘significant’ amounts of money spent upgrading and expanding facilities, hardstands and possibly additional hangars to house and maintain the new C-17’s and KC-30’s.

    Maybe the RAAF can look at maintaining a ‘flight’ of, say, two KC-30’s at Tindal or Darwin, yes no doubt that creates additional cost and strains on the Sqn, but maybe that is also a way of reducing the expenditure that would be required at Amberley and having aircraft with the Tindal based fighter Sqn.

    Should the two KC-30A’s be delivered with the cargo upgrade and cargo door? Maybe not necessary, especially with the addition of extra C-17’s and also having to maintain a couple of ‘orphans’ in the fleet, maybe it’s not an expense that needs to be made or is absolutely necessary.

    Air Mobility Group has certainly done well in recent years, and in the near future, with all it’s new ‘big’ toys, but maybe, as has also been mentioned, some thought should be given to increasing the capabilities of the ‘lower’ end of AMG’s capabilities by expanding the number of C-27J’s by a few more airframes (and some more CH-47F’s for Army) too.

    Cheers,

    John N

  • B. Harrison

    says:

    A squadron of 10 C-17’s and a squadron of 10 KC-30’s would be an excellent mix with the C130J’s and C27J’s.

  • Peter

    says:

    Re John N’s comments – I have to agree. At the time when the 5 KC-30’S were ordered ( with options for a further 3 ), the current 6 C-17s weren’t publicly envisaged, and the 8 ( + 4 optional ) P-8 Poseidons obviously hadn’t been ordered either. Both of these are air-to-air re-fueling capable. In about 6-7 years time, our fast jet fleet will be 72 F-35s, 24 Supers & 12 Growlers = 108 front line fast jets.
    Count them :-
    8 C-17s, 8-12 P-8s, 108 fast jets – all air-to-air refuelling capable.
    33 Hawk 127’s that need to practice air-to-air refuelling ( it can’t all be done on sims )

    5 KC-30As + maybe 2 more, with one sidelined for VIP regularly – obviously not enough, and that’s without cargo & volume passenger roles
    Cheers Peter

  • Bill

    says:

    I completely agree with John N’s statement. The original KC-30 acquisition found that five was the bare minimum number *at the time*, and as such with the imminent arrival of F-35 and the greater reliance on tankers this aircraft will have (especially if a fleet of 100 is to be had), and by the time maintenance allowances are made, that leaves a fighting force of just 5 frames leaving one spare for Canberra’s personal use. Not enough. Although the addition of the VIP interior may be a way of softening the deal in these tighter monetary times, IMHO it isn’t the right way forward.

    On the question of the main deck cargo door; I guess that depends on whether or not the C-17’s are flying palletised cargo around, chewing up valuable airframe hours and cycles, when the cargo could be more efficiently shifted in “Freight” KC-30’s. Utilising the KC-30 for such work would surely be more cost effective (no one took up any civilianised C-17’s due to its less than favourable economics, but A330F’s are plying their trade now).

  • BH

    says:

    With regard to the extra KC-30s, I remember a year or so ago the RAAF said that while the freighter option was now available, they’d prefer not to convert them as it would likely lead to them being drawn away from their intended purpose. If you want a freighter then buy more C17s.
    The same response could probably be expected if suggestions were raised that the extra KC-30s were to be acquired as direct replacements for the BBJs.
    I think that if extras are ordered, the VIP fitout would only be used for the less frequent longer distance overseas deployments. The BBJs and CL604s should be replaced with similar types and continue to provide the bulk of the VIP capacity. One thing I am curious about, given the recent stories about the waste in unnecessary VIP flights is how often do the BBJs fly around Australia half full..?
    Should the RAAF be looking at something a bit bigger than a CL604 to provide better efficiency…?

  • William

    says:

    Would you want the PM flying around in a tanker though? I think a purchase of 2 A330-200s in a VIP configuration or a Pair of KC-30s without the boom but still fitted for the tanking with the hose would be a better option. That way you’d have commonality with the main fleet save for the paint job and boom.

  • John N

    says:

    Peter and Bill,

    Apart from all the aircraft that you mentioned about being A2A capable, let’s not forget the 6 E-7A Wedgetails and of course the ability of the KC-30A’s to refuel each other too.

    There is another issue to consider too about the VIP tasked airframe, what happens if for some technical reason the aircraft becomes unserviceable? As does happen with aircraft from time to time, then I’d imagine that a ‘back up’ would have to be available and on standby at all times, just in case!

    I’d love to know what the percentage ‘split’ will be between an aircraft being tasked for VIP vs general MRTT duties, would it be at least 50% of the time? More? In that case the ‘standby’ aircraft would probably also have to follow that percentage split too.

    Again I think we all can agree that the addition of another two airframes is great news, but equally I think it’s clear that, with also taking on VIP duties, an extra two just doesn’t quiet seem to be as good a decision as it first appears.

    As for the Cargo door configuration, not saying we shouldn’t consider, but considering the massive increase in AMG’s capabilities in recent years, even excluding the possible extra C-17’s and KC-30’s that will probably start arriving over the next couple of years (and lets not also forget the C-130’s and C-27’s are available for cargo duties too), I think AMG is in a pretty dammed good position to be able to max and match airframes to all sorts of requirements that it is presented with.

    The other issue about going down the path of a cargo door configuration is, that we may also end up being the ‘launch’ customer again with all the extra time, cost and development issues that would possibly follow. I know the French Air Force is going to have a ‘cargo’ version, but from what I’ve read, their aircraft configured with the cargo door have been deferred and will come at the end after they receive ‘standard’ configuration first.

    As for the VIP fit out, you would imagine that it would have to be ‘modular’ so that it could be swapped from airframe to airframe, and that anyone of the fleet could be converted to all passenger (as is currently the case) to split VIP and passenger configuration when required.

    Cheers,

    John N

  • Raymond

    says:

    Two extra C-17’s – quick, before the ‘white tails’ are all accounted for – and three more KC-30’s – two with VIP interiors to replace the two 737 BBJ’s – on order please Mr. Johnston.

  • John N

    says:

    Raymond,

    I would suspect that if the Def Min is ‘publically’ talking about the inclusion of 1-2 more C-17A’s in next year’s DWP, then I’m sure that discussions with Boeing are probably already underway, I couldn’t imagine that they would want to look stupid and say ‘oops, we left it too late, we missed out!’.

    We may not necessarily have an ‘official’ announcement before mid next year (when the DWP is due), but I wouldn’t mind betting that there is a ‘reserved’ sign on a couple of the airframes!

  • Stuart

    says:

    Further to my Comments made 18th August, I have noted since that the Japan Self Defense Force has ordered 2 x B777-300ER for their VIP Requirments, which will be maintained by ANA.

    The decision is go with B777-330ER, was to allow for the greater Range (over the KC30A) and space/weight issues with fitting the suite of Communications equipment required.

    Given that the US will go down this path as well at some stage, when they replace the current VC-25 why don’t we also look at these, given our geographic location, have the furtherest to travel to the major Centres like Washington and Europe for our PM and the Reporters?

    I know this then creates issues with mixed fleet, but gives max range by some distance (approx 4000kms over the KC30A), if we don’t air- to Air fuel the PM’s jet.

  • John N

    says:

    Stuart,

    I don’t think the issue is just about extending the ‘range’ of the VIP aircraft and whether the PM’s jet is capable of being air refuelled itself (which would require an accompanying A2A aircraft to allow a flight to go direct to London for example), I’m sure the ‘normal’ land based refuelling locations around the globe will be more than sufficient for long range flights.

    It’s more about the Government trying to ‘kill two birds with the one stone’, on the one hand there is a requirement for the 2 x BBJ’s of the VIP fleet to be replaced with larger, longer ranging more capable jets, and on the other hand a desire / requirement / need for the KC-30A fleet to increase in size. As has been mentioned, there was originally a plan / option, for the KC-30A fleet to eventually be 8 airframes, three more than currently in service.

    So what does the Government do in these ‘fiscally challenged’ times? How does it be a bit more ‘creative’ in it’s approach to fulfil both requirements?

    The smart answer is to acquire more KC-30A MRTT’s, fully configured for A2A and include a VIP interior (still probably better if it can be modular) so that they can have aircraft that are both capable of being used for VIP duties and also fully capable of being used ‘operationally’ in the MRTT role.

    I think the only outstanding question is, what is the right amount of airframes to fulfil both requirements?

    Five would be great (but never going to happen, not enough money). Four would be great too (but again never going to happen). Three is probably the right ‘balance’ between both requirements, two is probably a bit shy of being able to fulfil both requirements.

    I agree, the B777-300ER would make a great long range VIP aircraft, but unfortunately there just doesn’t appear to be enough money in the pot to fulfil both the VIP and expanded MRTT requirements, so compromise it is!!

    Cheers,

    John N

  • BH

    says:

    Has there been any confirmation that the KC-30/s with VIP fitout would be direct replacements for the BBJs or whether they would just be used on longer haul o/s travel…?
    If they are going to replace the BBJs, then given current usage of the BBJs domestically I think KC30s spending most of their time running the PM and his/her hangers-on around Australia is a gross waste. The current wastage of the BBJs is bad enough.
    The BBJ and CL604 fleet would be better replaced with one or two sizes of aircraft suitable for domestic and short haul domestic legs with a VIP mod’d KC30 providing only the less frequent longer haul international services..

  • Tim C 69

    says:

    agree with most comments, 3 x KC 30 -2 with boom/grey and one with 3 drogue points similar to RAF /also in VIP livery and additional 2 C17. add to that 2 Wedgetails and 2 additional C27 Spartans. Now about the PC 9 and Hawk replacements…I’m going with even split PS 21 and Macchi Masters/ 45 of each with COIN and light ground attack for both.

  • Tim C 69

    says:

    Also replace the 3 Bombadiers and 2 BBJ with 4 VIP
    /passenger versions of Embraer 195…

  • Tim C 69

    says:

    that’s 45 PC 21’s not PS-typo.

Leave a Comment to Dave Soderstrom Cancel

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Defence Minister flags additional KC-30s, C-17s

written by australianaviation.com.au | August 18, 2014
Two RAAF C-17s and a KC-30 at Eindhoven, the Netherlands for MH17 support. (Defence)
Two RAAF C-17s and a KC-30 at Eindhoven, the Netherlands for MH17 support. (Defence)

Defence Minister Senator David Johnston has flagged the acquisition of further Airbus KC-30 tanker-transports and Boeing C-17 airlifters for the RAAF.

Speaking to News Limited’s Ian McPhederan last week, Minister Johnston suggested the next Defence White Paper, due for release next year, will propose the acquisition of two extra KC-30As and one or two additional C-17s. One of the KC-30s would also feature a VIP interior for international travel by the prime minister.

“When you get good service from a platform it prompts you to say, ‘why don’t you get some more?’ ” the Minister was reported as saying during an interview aboard a KC-30 bound for Darwin.

Advertisement
Advertisement

“It [the KC-30] allows us to go anywhere in our region and far and away beyond that.”

The report also quotes the Minister as saying acquiring addional C-17s is a “no-brainer”.

The RAAF currently operates five KC-30A tanker-transports with 33SQN and six C-17s with 36SQN, with both units based at Amberley.

Acquiring additional KC-30As “makes sense”, Australian Aviation contributor Andrew McLaughlin writes in the September issue of the magazine, out late next week. “The KC-30 program is coming good, the boom and pod hardware and software remediation development is wrapping up, a new software load is expected to fix many of the minor idiosyncrasies and work-arounds of the original design, and the aircraft has proved its strategic reach in recent ALS (air logistics support) taskings to the US and Europe, and on long-endurance tanking missions in Australia,” he writes.

PROMOTED CONTENT

Separately, Minister Johnston remarked in Darwin last week that “I am optimistic this aircraft will soon be removed from the Projects of Concern”. (The KC-30 acquisition is being managed under the Defence Material Organisation’s ‘Projects of Concern’ process due to issues with the aircraft’s refuelling boom system, which are close to being rectified.)

As well as Australia, the KC-30 (known outside Australia as the A330 MRTT) has been ordered by Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom.

Australia has a unique, but limited, opportunity to secure additional C-17s, meanwhile. Boeing has commenced assembly of its 269th and last C-17 at its Long Beach, California plant, with production due to wind up next year. However, the company is building 15 “white tail” aircraft without a customer to date. India (which already has 10 on order) is reportedly interested in six of these, and Boeing remains in ongoing discussions with existing C-17 operators and potential new customers regarding the remaining aircraft.

 

Steer your own in-flight experience – available on print and digital Whether our classic glossy magazine in your letterbox, daily news updates in your inbox, peeling back a few layers in the podcast or our monthly current affair reports, you can count on us to keep you up to date. Sign up today for just $99.95 for more exclusive offers here. Subscribe now at australianaviation.com.au.

32 Comments

  • William

    says:

    Can you have too much airlift?

  • Andy

    says:

    Will two C-17 be enough ? Four would be better! And four KC-30 and two C-30 for VIP – transport. Thus giving RAAF more Airlift ability.

  • Michael

    says:

    Interesting that if we buy the two C-17s our fleet size will be the same as the RAFs. Would that be because they are acquiring the A400M which can take a much large percentage of the C-17s payload and cargo volume compared to the C-130, the Brits are tight for money or a both?

  • Michael

    says:

    Any idea why the RAF have not fitted a boom and boom receptacle to their A330 MRTTs like we have? Seems a very short sighted move given the extra flexibility it gives and with Operation Black Buck still fresh in some people’s minds over there.

  • BH

    says:

    @William..
    No I don’t think the RAAF will ever have too much airlift…
    The extra C17s would be a smart buy and given that the line is closing its either do or die for that capability for the foreseeable future..
    The next question is how much more hard stand space are they going to need at Amberley..?

  • John Harrison

    says:

    Sounds like a great idea, but isn’t Boeing winding down the production of the C17’s, we might have to be quick to get some more. As for one AB330 as a VIP, long over due seeing our Prime Minster jetting around the world in a B737 seems a bit “naff” Bigger is better for sure.

  • Stuart

    says:

    You can never have too much Airlift Capability… The only problem is where to house them, as I believe Amberley is close to being full, when all the C17’s are home.

    As for for only 1 x VIP configured A330, they should get 2.

    We have had a more than one occassion, the B737 breaking down, either before takeoff or during a trip.
    This way, the RAAF can have a Backup Aircraft at All Times.

    Also, these VIP A330’s need to be Air to Air Refuelable, so they can operate Non-stop into Europe and USA.

  • Peter Clark

    says:

    Don’t forget the RNZAF might be looking at a white tail.
    Be the perfect aircraft to operate along side the RAAF.
    The RNZAF needs a larger heavy lift now, and the C-17 with the Australians is really the only way to go.

  • Damien

    says:

    Good to read about the extra airlift capability. It’s something we lacked back in the 90’s when I served with the RAAF on the C-130’s – we never had enough C-130’s to go around. If 9 C-17s are available, maybe NZ could get 3-4 to supplement/replace their C-130’s (50 years young) and the RAAF could get the rest. Parking may be an issue but maybe another SQN could be activated at another base with room like Pearce or Edinburgh.

    Two VIP KC-30’s would be smarter to allow for maintenance to occur, also maybe another 2 KC-30’s making the total 4, can never have enough tankers either.

  • Bill

    says:

    I think that the DMO should try and get their hands on as many C-17’s as they can since this will be the last opportunity. Otherwise A400 is about the only other option, and its half the capacity.

    On the tanker front, with potentially 100 F-35’s coming our way and it being short range more tankers is a no-brainer. At least five more is in order, and I think that VIP and tanker ops should be kept separate. Its effectively saying we’ve got “X” KC-30’s to use, but one of them is permanently utilised carting our political masters around. And what happens when it is actually needed in combat? Ring QANTAS?

  • Alan Griffiths

    says:

    Obviously we can make use of more airlift, but might it not be a good idea that we buy the next 2 KC-30’s with side cargo doors, strengthened floors etc., so that they can be used for pallet transport, rather than just as seated passengers. Their operating speed would enable us to handle such freight needs quickly into suitable airstrips, freeing the C-17’s for the more difficult strips. We can reconfigure 1 or 2 of the existing standard floor/door aircraft for VIP.

  • Peter Ferguson

    says:

    New Zealand could not afford to buy a single C-17, their air force is made up a couple of old Hercs. I think the RAAF will end up with 10 c-17s. Excellent news about more KC-30s.

  • ngatimozart

    says:

    The RNZAF will not get the C17 because we do not have enough airlift need to justify a C17. However the A400M is another story and that, in my humble opinion, would be a very worthwhile acquisition for the RNZAF. Four, preferably five aircraft would be ideal. A Future RNZAF Airlift Study is being conducted at the moment which is to inform the proposed 2015 Defence White Paper. However there is the little matter of a General Election on 20th September 2014 and if Tane current govt is reelected the the DWP will go ahead. If there is a change of govt then the future of the 2015 DWP is uncertain. The Future RNZAF Air Transport Study will also probably suggest replacement or non replacement of the B757. If we do decide to replace those aircraft with something similar, like Australia we have the range issue, in fact more so. Some suggest the B737-800 but it doesn’t have the range nor capability of the current B757, so my personal view is if we are going to go down that track then we need to bite the bullet and look at a KC30 without the air to air refuelling capability. Finally the third part of the project is the Andover replacement and I would suggest that if they go with the A400 then we will get the C295. If they decide to go with the C130J that in my view would be a big mistake because it physically limits our air lift capabilities.

  • ngatimozart

    says:

    @Peter Ferguson. Check your facts. Currently the RNZAF operates five C130s. They started out as H models and three have been converted to C130H(NZ) with the fourth due out of the SLEP next month and the fifth next year. They now have digital flight decks that bring them up to the current international standard. The RNZAF also operate two B757-200 Combi aircraft. That’s just 40 Sqn.

  • Dave Soderstrom

    says:

    A fantastic move by the Government and the ADF, with the ADF being called upon more and more for humanitarian roles and for crisis/natural disasters and the like. The RAAF is poised to be in the best position in the region for the support and logistics role.

  • Darren

    says:

    I agree the extra C-17’s is a pretty good idea. It just makes good sense. They have really proved themselves. I agree with the earlier comment about re configuring 1-2 existing KC-30A with VIP interior and getting the next 4 (my number) with the cargo door and main floor freight with a combo option to increase versatility. As for the space problem the fleets seem so busy they are never home, however perhaps a FOB style arrangement could be made with the Tankers rotating at Tindal/Williamtown, VIPs at Canberra with Airlift at Richmond/Darwin. Alternatively buy shares in the local concrete provider!

  • Paul

    says:

    My submission to the Defence MInisters response in an interview regarding more C-17s and KC-30 for the RAAF on Australian Aviation online

    Given that the USAF is stating that the air to air refueling of the requirements for the JSF will be greater than any other of its teen series aircraft this is fantastic news for the RAAF with its projected 100 airframes of this 5th Generation fighter. The ability to carry personnel and cargo in addition to fuel demonstrates the value in aircraft such as the RAAF KC-30.

    Personally I would like to see a move to either get more C-27Js and even have the firefighting and gunship palliated modules to further ensure greater versatility. The RAAF C-130-30J Hercules have worked hard and I wonder if a strategy aimed at their early retirement and then acquisition of the C-130-30J Super Hercules II would be of benefit. Hopefully this would see Defence and Government encourage New Zealand to come into the buy and has cross Tasmin training and reduction in support cost etc. NZ unfortunately did not take up the offer of a reduced cost purchase of the J Model with the RAAF in the past and chose to go down the expensive cost of refurbishing their rather old H Models.

    I am not opposed to the A400M but it still has a long way to go to mature, and is in reality a capability found in between the Hercules and Globemaster

    Amberley certainly needs to have a better means of caring for its C-17s and KC-30 than parking them out in the elements as happens now! Large hailstones and other weather events alone will certainly not be in their interest!

  • John N

    says:

    Can you have too much airlift?

    Probably not, but lets hope that the money being found for these acquisitions isn’t coming at the expense of some other needed capability and is in fact ‘new’ money.

    If another one (better if two) C-17A’s can be obtained, that will be great, it will certainly secure the RAAF’s ability to move a lot of gear a very long way for a very long time too, smart move.

    And it’s probably a smart move too to obtain another couple of KC-30A’s as ‘dual’ replacements for the BBJ’s and at the same time increasing the AAR tanker fleet, I still wonder if two is enough for both expanding the AAR fleet and also performing VIP duties too?

    Going back into the past when the original 5 KC-30A’s were ordered, there was an option (which lapsed) for another three airframes, if exercised, it would have seen a fleet of 8 airframes in service in the MRTT role.

    I would imagine that one of the two new airframes will be spending a lot of time based in Canberra hauling pollies around, which really means that there is the addition of one airframe (for most of the time), available for tanking and other general transport duties.

    Don’t get me wrong, it’s good news to hear of the probable purchase of another two KC-30A’s, but with the ‘original’ option looking at three extra airframes, and now adding VIP duties too, three would probably have been a better outcome.

    Basing and infrastructure, that’s going to be interesting. As others have mentioned, Amberley would appear to require some ‘significant’ amounts of money spent upgrading and expanding facilities, hardstands and possibly additional hangars to house and maintain the new C-17’s and KC-30’s.

    Maybe the RAAF can look at maintaining a ‘flight’ of, say, two KC-30’s at Tindal or Darwin, yes no doubt that creates additional cost and strains on the Sqn, but maybe that is also a way of reducing the expenditure that would be required at Amberley and having aircraft with the Tindal based fighter Sqn.

    Should the two KC-30A’s be delivered with the cargo upgrade and cargo door? Maybe not necessary, especially with the addition of extra C-17’s and also having to maintain a couple of ‘orphans’ in the fleet, maybe it’s not an expense that needs to be made or is absolutely necessary.

    Air Mobility Group has certainly done well in recent years, and in the near future, with all it’s new ‘big’ toys, but maybe, as has also been mentioned, some thought should be given to increasing the capabilities of the ‘lower’ end of AMG’s capabilities by expanding the number of C-27J’s by a few more airframes (and some more CH-47F’s for Army) too.

    Cheers,

    John N

  • B. Harrison

    says:

    A squadron of 10 C-17’s and a squadron of 10 KC-30’s would be an excellent mix with the C130J’s and C27J’s.

  • Peter

    says:

    Re John N’s comments – I have to agree. At the time when the 5 KC-30’S were ordered ( with options for a further 3 ), the current 6 C-17s weren’t publicly envisaged, and the 8 ( + 4 optional ) P-8 Poseidons obviously hadn’t been ordered either. Both of these are air-to-air re-fueling capable. In about 6-7 years time, our fast jet fleet will be 72 F-35s, 24 Supers & 12 Growlers = 108 front line fast jets.
    Count them :-
    8 C-17s, 8-12 P-8s, 108 fast jets – all air-to-air refuelling capable.
    33 Hawk 127’s that need to practice air-to-air refuelling ( it can’t all be done on sims )

    5 KC-30As + maybe 2 more, with one sidelined for VIP regularly – obviously not enough, and that’s without cargo & volume passenger roles
    Cheers Peter

  • Bill

    says:

    I completely agree with John N’s statement. The original KC-30 acquisition found that five was the bare minimum number *at the time*, and as such with the imminent arrival of F-35 and the greater reliance on tankers this aircraft will have (especially if a fleet of 100 is to be had), and by the time maintenance allowances are made, that leaves a fighting force of just 5 frames leaving one spare for Canberra’s personal use. Not enough. Although the addition of the VIP interior may be a way of softening the deal in these tighter monetary times, IMHO it isn’t the right way forward.

    On the question of the main deck cargo door; I guess that depends on whether or not the C-17’s are flying palletised cargo around, chewing up valuable airframe hours and cycles, when the cargo could be more efficiently shifted in “Freight” KC-30’s. Utilising the KC-30 for such work would surely be more cost effective (no one took up any civilianised C-17’s due to its less than favourable economics, but A330F’s are plying their trade now).

  • BH

    says:

    With regard to the extra KC-30s, I remember a year or so ago the RAAF said that while the freighter option was now available, they’d prefer not to convert them as it would likely lead to them being drawn away from their intended purpose. If you want a freighter then buy more C17s.
    The same response could probably be expected if suggestions were raised that the extra KC-30s were to be acquired as direct replacements for the BBJs.
    I think that if extras are ordered, the VIP fitout would only be used for the less frequent longer distance overseas deployments. The BBJs and CL604s should be replaced with similar types and continue to provide the bulk of the VIP capacity. One thing I am curious about, given the recent stories about the waste in unnecessary VIP flights is how often do the BBJs fly around Australia half full..?
    Should the RAAF be looking at something a bit bigger than a CL604 to provide better efficiency…?

  • William

    says:

    Would you want the PM flying around in a tanker though? I think a purchase of 2 A330-200s in a VIP configuration or a Pair of KC-30s without the boom but still fitted for the tanking with the hose would be a better option. That way you’d have commonality with the main fleet save for the paint job and boom.

  • John N

    says:

    Peter and Bill,

    Apart from all the aircraft that you mentioned about being A2A capable, let’s not forget the 6 E-7A Wedgetails and of course the ability of the KC-30A’s to refuel each other too.

    There is another issue to consider too about the VIP tasked airframe, what happens if for some technical reason the aircraft becomes unserviceable? As does happen with aircraft from time to time, then I’d imagine that a ‘back up’ would have to be available and on standby at all times, just in case!

    I’d love to know what the percentage ‘split’ will be between an aircraft being tasked for VIP vs general MRTT duties, would it be at least 50% of the time? More? In that case the ‘standby’ aircraft would probably also have to follow that percentage split too.

    Again I think we all can agree that the addition of another two airframes is great news, but equally I think it’s clear that, with also taking on VIP duties, an extra two just doesn’t quiet seem to be as good a decision as it first appears.

    As for the Cargo door configuration, not saying we shouldn’t consider, but considering the massive increase in AMG’s capabilities in recent years, even excluding the possible extra C-17’s and KC-30’s that will probably start arriving over the next couple of years (and lets not also forget the C-130’s and C-27’s are available for cargo duties too), I think AMG is in a pretty dammed good position to be able to max and match airframes to all sorts of requirements that it is presented with.

    The other issue about going down the path of a cargo door configuration is, that we may also end up being the ‘launch’ customer again with all the extra time, cost and development issues that would possibly follow. I know the French Air Force is going to have a ‘cargo’ version, but from what I’ve read, their aircraft configured with the cargo door have been deferred and will come at the end after they receive ‘standard’ configuration first.

    As for the VIP fit out, you would imagine that it would have to be ‘modular’ so that it could be swapped from airframe to airframe, and that anyone of the fleet could be converted to all passenger (as is currently the case) to split VIP and passenger configuration when required.

    Cheers,

    John N

  • Raymond

    says:

    Two extra C-17’s – quick, before the ‘white tails’ are all accounted for – and three more KC-30’s – two with VIP interiors to replace the two 737 BBJ’s – on order please Mr. Johnston.

  • John N

    says:

    Raymond,

    I would suspect that if the Def Min is ‘publically’ talking about the inclusion of 1-2 more C-17A’s in next year’s DWP, then I’m sure that discussions with Boeing are probably already underway, I couldn’t imagine that they would want to look stupid and say ‘oops, we left it too late, we missed out!’.

    We may not necessarily have an ‘official’ announcement before mid next year (when the DWP is due), but I wouldn’t mind betting that there is a ‘reserved’ sign on a couple of the airframes!

  • Stuart

    says:

    Further to my Comments made 18th August, I have noted since that the Japan Self Defense Force has ordered 2 x B777-300ER for their VIP Requirments, which will be maintained by ANA.

    The decision is go with B777-330ER, was to allow for the greater Range (over the KC30A) and space/weight issues with fitting the suite of Communications equipment required.

    Given that the US will go down this path as well at some stage, when they replace the current VC-25 why don’t we also look at these, given our geographic location, have the furtherest to travel to the major Centres like Washington and Europe for our PM and the Reporters?

    I know this then creates issues with mixed fleet, but gives max range by some distance (approx 4000kms over the KC30A), if we don’t air- to Air fuel the PM’s jet.

  • John N

    says:

    Stuart,

    I don’t think the issue is just about extending the ‘range’ of the VIP aircraft and whether the PM’s jet is capable of being air refuelled itself (which would require an accompanying A2A aircraft to allow a flight to go direct to London for example), I’m sure the ‘normal’ land based refuelling locations around the globe will be more than sufficient for long range flights.

    It’s more about the Government trying to ‘kill two birds with the one stone’, on the one hand there is a requirement for the 2 x BBJ’s of the VIP fleet to be replaced with larger, longer ranging more capable jets, and on the other hand a desire / requirement / need for the KC-30A fleet to increase in size. As has been mentioned, there was originally a plan / option, for the KC-30A fleet to eventually be 8 airframes, three more than currently in service.

    So what does the Government do in these ‘fiscally challenged’ times? How does it be a bit more ‘creative’ in it’s approach to fulfil both requirements?

    The smart answer is to acquire more KC-30A MRTT’s, fully configured for A2A and include a VIP interior (still probably better if it can be modular) so that they can have aircraft that are both capable of being used for VIP duties and also fully capable of being used ‘operationally’ in the MRTT role.

    I think the only outstanding question is, what is the right amount of airframes to fulfil both requirements?

    Five would be great (but never going to happen, not enough money). Four would be great too (but again never going to happen). Three is probably the right ‘balance’ between both requirements, two is probably a bit shy of being able to fulfil both requirements.

    I agree, the B777-300ER would make a great long range VIP aircraft, but unfortunately there just doesn’t appear to be enough money in the pot to fulfil both the VIP and expanded MRTT requirements, so compromise it is!!

    Cheers,

    John N

  • BH

    says:

    Has there been any confirmation that the KC-30/s with VIP fitout would be direct replacements for the BBJs or whether they would just be used on longer haul o/s travel…?
    If they are going to replace the BBJs, then given current usage of the BBJs domestically I think KC30s spending most of their time running the PM and his/her hangers-on around Australia is a gross waste. The current wastage of the BBJs is bad enough.
    The BBJ and CL604 fleet would be better replaced with one or two sizes of aircraft suitable for domestic and short haul domestic legs with a VIP mod’d KC30 providing only the less frequent longer haul international services..

  • Tim C 69

    says:

    agree with most comments, 3 x KC 30 -2 with boom/grey and one with 3 drogue points similar to RAF /also in VIP livery and additional 2 C17. add to that 2 Wedgetails and 2 additional C27 Spartans. Now about the PC 9 and Hawk replacements…I’m going with even split PS 21 and Macchi Masters/ 45 of each with COIN and light ground attack for both.

  • Tim C 69

    says:

    Also replace the 3 Bombadiers and 2 BBJ with 4 VIP
    /passenger versions of Embraer 195…

  • Tim C 69

    says:

    that’s 45 PC 21’s not PS-typo.

Leave a Comment to Dave Soderstrom Cancel

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Each day, our subscribers are more informed with the right information.

SIGN UP to the Australian Aviation magazine for high-quality news and features for just $99.95 per year