RAAF completes boom refuelling trials with Wedgetail

written by australianaviation.com.au | June 18, 2015

20150610raaf8437718_0145.JPGThe RAAF has completed air-to-air boom refuelling trials that saw the E-7A Wedgetail refuelling from the KC-30A Multi Role Tanker Transport for the first time.

The trials, which were conducted in airspace off the coast of northern New South Wales between June 1 and 13, were overseen by the RAAF’s Aircraft Research and Development Unit. During testing, the aircraft conducted 118 ‘dry’ contacts and six ‘wet’ contacts.

“Air-to-air refuelling considerably increases the Wedgetail’s range and endurance, allowing us to provide command and control and air battlespace management over longer periods,” said Wing Commander Christian Martin, commanding officer of Squadron, which operates the Wedgetail airborne early warning and control platform.

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“This has been demonstrated in the Middle East region under Operation OKRA [in Iraq] where RAAF Wedgetails have used foreign air force tankers to fly extended sorties. Once the trial results are assessed, an initial clearance is expected to be granted to allow Wedgetail crews to begin refuelling training flights with the KC-30A.”

Squadron Leader Ben Goring, executive officer of 33 Squadron, stated that air-to-air refuelling required both aircraft to fly in close formation at more than 500 km/h.

“The KC-30A deploys the 17-metre-long Aerial Refuelling Boom System from the aft fuselage, which is guided by an air refuelling operator on the KC-30A into a refuelling receptacle on the Wedgetail,” SQNLDR Goring said.

The RAAF achieved the first refuelling boom contact using the KC-30A on May 13. The KC-30A has already been cleared to refuel the RAAF’s Hornets and Super Hornets using its hose-and-drogue refuelling pods.

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17 Comments

  • adammudhen

    says:

    Amazing photos! A great capability that few other air forces can match.

  • TimC69

    says:

    We need more of both platforms, at least 10 KC30’s and 8 Wedgetails.Never the less a great outcome for the ADF.

  • Red Barron

    says:

    Wow. Absolutely amazing photos. I just got a new screensaver image for my PC.

  • Marc

    says:

    Sensational pics.

  • Daryl

    says:

    Yes indeed ,outstanding photos.Those tankers are big compared to the 737.They should be busy in the coming weeks with the big war games about to start..CVN-73 looks magnificent cruising into Morton bay this morning.

  • John N

    says:

    Good news and great photo’s too, you can really appreciate how big the KC-30A’s are, even compared to the E-7A Wedgetail, she is a big Mother!!

    Now lets all hope that when the DWP is announced that there is more good new about how many extra KC-30A airframes will be procured, I sincerely hope it is at least three, the original requirement was for 5 +3 options. Hopefully the dollars that may have been allocated to the possible purchase of C-17A’s 9 & 10 can be reallocated towards additional KC-30A’s.

    (For those that may have missed the news earlier this week, Boeing announced that Qatar was taking delivery of ‘four’ of the C-17 white tails, leaving only ‘one’ that doesn’t have a new home, the nine C-17A white tails sold so far are going to: 4 Qatar, 2 UAE, 2 Australia and 1 Canada, yes there is still the last one that doesn’t have a new home, still it may (or may not) end up with Skippy painted on it’s side, just have to wait for the DWP, or further announcements from Boeing).

    Cheers,

    John N

  • Tom

    says:

    This is incredibly cool and wonderful photography. Well done RAAF and congrats

  • Greg Alexander

    says:

    I was the production liaison engineer on E7-A and am now the reliability engineer on the KC-30A, these shots are very gratifying indeed. Great planes that will contribute to the RAAF for many years to come. Really good to be a part of these rewarding projects.

  • Geoff Mc

    says:

    Good images yes but I would have to wonder why the first is shot at such an angle to infer the aircraft are in a bank. Air refuelling surely, especially in trials, does not occur in a bank.
    Besides the fine images, I think it is a justifiably proud time for all the crews, both airborne and ground who have put in so much concentrated effort for this to have come off so well. Well done RAAF.

  • Jason

    says:

    Geoff Mc – most deployed air-to-air refueling occurs in a ‘racetrack’ pattern, not in a straight line. For an aircraft as large as a Wedgetail, it is likely a top up will take the best part of a lap of the ‘racetrack’. It is therefore sensible to ensure stability of the tanker and receiver in all corners of the flight envelope.

  • Raymond

    says:

    Is someone (John N?) able to confirm just how many C-17 ‘white tails’ there are / were?

    Differing reports (even on AA) place the number as 10, 13 and 15. This could make a difference as to final RAAF numbers?

  • John N

    says:

    Raymond,

    Yes early on Boeing did in fact say 13 or 15 C-17A White Tails, then I believe it was to be 13, but in the end the numbers actually built is ten (10).

    All of the ‘current’ media reports have only spoken of 10, I believe that Boeing made the change from 13 down to 10 about a year ago, which was the first time I had heard the number 10 being talked about as the final number, and at the same time Boeing also announced the C-17A production line was going to shut around three months earlier than originally planned (eg, cutting the white tails from 13 to 10 also meant the line closed earlier).

    So there is one left, wonder who will get it!

    Cheers,

    John N

  • Daryl

    says:

    Raymond,I think there were 15
    white tails.Only one left (see above)

  • Raymond

    says:

    Thanks John,

    Okay, it will be interesting to see who gets the lucky last one! Perhaps there’s a secret auction. 🙂

    I wonder why they didn’t end up building those 13 or 15. I would have thought they’d have found a home?

    I suppose there’s always the possibility of ex-USAF airframes if they’re deemed to have over-supplied and are surplus to requirements, for those that are desperate for C-17’s in the future!

    The DWP should help clarify… any idea exactly when this year it’s meant to be released?

  • Jason

    says:

    Isn’t this an article about MRTT/Wedgetail refuelling?

    The White Paper is due in late August.

  • Raymond

    says:

    Sorry Jason, we did get somewhat sidetracked! However, funding for additional KC-30 MRTT’s may become more likely should C-17 numbers 9 and 10 not proceed (I’m not advocating that we shouldn’t have 10 C-17’s!)

    Thanks for that.

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