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KC-30A achieves 20,000 flying hours milestone

written by australianaviation.com.au | October 20, 2016

A Royal Australian Air Force KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport during boom refuelling trials in the United States.
A Royal Australian Air Force KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport during boom refuelling trials in the United States. (Defence)

The Royal Australian Air Force’s KC-30A Multi Role Tanker Transport fleet has surpassed the 20,000 flying hours milestone since entering service in 2011.

This milestone was reached during a mission from Yokota Air Base in Japan – having supported the return of Pacific Air Forces F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft – to Kuala Lumpur as the tanker in question was being positioned to support Exercise Bersama Lima 2016.

“The milestone was reached on an international flight supporting two completely different missions, which further demonstrates the value of the aircraft,” said Wing Commander Rob Williams, commanding officer of 33 Squadron. “The KC-30A has transformed and enhanced the global reach of the ADF, and will continue to mature in its role and application in the years to come.”

33 Squadron operates five KC-30A aircraft from RAAF Base Amberley. AIR 7403 Phase 3 is acquiring two additional aircraft to increase the existing fleet to seven.

These two aircraft – secondhand ex-Qantas aircraft – will be converted to tanker configuration by Airbus Defence and Space at Getafe, Spain.


In October Defence confirmed one of the two additional Airbus A330-200s being converted into KC-30A tanker transports is set to be modified with a VIP interior to support long-range government transport needs.

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Comments (6)

  • Allan


    A bloody good aircraft doing an awesome job.

  • RH Hastings


    A bit too big as a tanker, about right for troop transport. Overall, ok for small militaries with fewer missions.

  • Fabian


    Yep, certainty is

  • Chris


    RH Hastings, I disagree.
    The KC-30’s range, payload and loitering abilities far outweigh its Boeing counterpart in the KC-46.
    We are not the USAF who has a fleet of over 500 tankers at the ready across not only the US mainland, but across the globe.
    We need longer legs, more fuel on board and other integrated capabilities such as cargo, passenger and soon to be VIP transport.
    The KC-30 is a perfect fit for our needs.

  • rpaps5


    No such thing as being too big for a tanker. This conversion has now evolved into the best tanker/transport on the market due to very dedicated development work by all parties involved.
    Developing a new tanker is no small task – as the arrogance of Boeing is now finding out.
    Given the range of aircraft it is now tanking, or in the process of qualifying to tank and the ranges typically involved in deployments from Australia. It is most definitely the right size for Australia.
    With dedicated development effort, it, like the Wedge Tail has produced a world-leading capability in it’s own area of capability.

  • John N


    Hi RH,

    You said: “A bit too big as a tanker, about right for troop transport. Overall, ok for small militaries with fewer missions.”

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion, I respect that, but I disagree with most of what you have said.

    Certainly from a troop/passenger capability point of view, the KC-30A has it all over the KC-46A, KC-30A, close to 300 and the Boeing KC-49A, 114 max.

    From a fuel capacity point of view, 110,000kg for the KC-30A, and 96,265kg for the KC-46A, more than 10% greater capacity, and greater range and ‘on station’ time too.

    There is certainly a different ‘main focus’ from this point on, the current KC-30A doesn’t have a main deck cargo door (but some of the later French Air Force examples on order will include that), currently that comes down to what the user priority is, for the RAAF, we have more than sufficient ‘pure cargo’ capacity with the C-17A, C-130J and C-27J fleets.

    Yes the KC-30A does have a larger ‘foot print’ on the ground than the KC-46A, but what’s a bit of extra concrete for apron space?

    As for the “ok for small militaries with fewer missions” comment, how do you define that?

    Yes, ultimately, there will certainly be less overall A330MRTT/KC-30A airframes in service compared to the KC-767/KC-46A (purely because of the larger number of airframes on order for the USAF), but the Airbus product has certainly won far more competitions than the competing Boeing product.

    And of course if it hadn’t been for the ‘domestic political’ interference in the US KC-X competition (which the A-330 based KC-45 won in the first place over Boeing), the Airbus airframe would be the clear winner in both total number of airframes and number of nations too.

    Anyway, respect your opinion, just disagree, certainly glad that the RAAF has the KC-30A in service, looking forward to the fleet growing from the current five, soon to be seven, and if the DWP is to believed, eventually nine too!!


    John N

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