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RAAF KC-30 conducts P-8 refuelling trials

written by australianaviation.com.au | May 25, 2018
U.S. Navy Photograph by Liz Wolter

An RAAF KC-30A MRTT has returned from a six week detachment to NAS Patuxent River in Maryland where it conducted a series of air-to-air refuelling trials with US Navy Boeing P-8A Poseidons.

From February 27 to Aril 14, the KC-30 along with members of 33SQN and the Aircraft Research and Development Unit (ARDU) undertook the clearance trials with the US Navy’s P-8A Integrated Test Team from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Two Zero (VX-20).

U.S. Navy Photograph by Liz Wolter

The clearance test were conducted in preparation for the commencement of RAAF P-8A refuelling operations back in Australia.

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These stunning photos are courtesy of the ADF.

U.S. Navy Photograph by Liz Wolter

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7 Comments

  • Bill

    says:

    Interesting that the flight trials weren’t conducted here. We have a smaller number of P-8As in ht e RAAF, so there’s a risk you’ll lose a bigger peercentage of you fleet *if* something goes wrong, but surely there’s enough data to build on fom the E-7A trails conducted a couple of years back? Or is there a contractual obligation with Boeing and the USN that says any flight trials must be conducted with those stakeholders present?

  • TwinTiger

    says:

    Given that the RAAF already have air to air refueling certification for the Wedgetail E-7A – the alternate military variant of the 737 – this additional certification should have been a pretty straight-forward exercise for the KC-30A crew.

    Probably this certification process would have proved to be more valuable for the USN P-8s. Dare I say, a little like “train the trainer”?

  • Mick C

    says:

    Guys when comparing the E-7 to P-8 you are going to get very different Flight characteristics due to the Radar that sits on top of the E-7. Flying the E-7 would be very different to flying any other 737. All military Aircraft types have to be qualified to operate under all conditions and a manual written up before IOC/FOC can be declared. the Sea Hawks operating off the LHDs is a great example, just because the Spanish had been doing it for several years off the Juan Carlos doesn’t mean the RAN didn’t have to qualify Sea Hawks of the Canberra’s .
    USN has a full time trials unit dedicated to the P-8 only, so wouldn’t they be the best suited unit to qualify the KC-30/P-8 refuelling other than ARDU having to set up qualifying.

    PS : Love the new Website guys, well done.

  • bt

    says:

    There are clues in the photos that can lead you to conclude why the testing was done at PAX river: Note the missiles mounted on the wings.

    – The testing would include multiple hook-ups with multiple flight configuration and weapon loads. All of these ancillary equipment will be readily available at PAX as that is where the USN is having all the flight testing of the P-8.

    – Yes, testing of the P-8A is still being done at PAX as there are multiple increments being incorporated and testing even for this mature program.

    – Finding P-8A flight time for testing may be easier at PAX as the RAAF may have their schedule full with introduction and test flights of their own.

    – Finally, there may be a technical reason why they are not performing refueling test flight with the RAAF frame, that is not known to the general public. “wink”

    Note that Australia is a full partner to the US with the P-8A program. Data obtained is shared between the two partner so there should be no political reason why the testing was done at one place rather then another.

    bt

  • Pontius

    says:

    Is this the first US Navy aircraft not to use probe and drogue? Did the refuelling plumbing come from wedgetail.
    Boeing would love the photos.

  • Bill

    says:

    Don’t forget also that the E-7A is a 737-700 length fuselage, the P-8 is a -800, the weights are different. All that changes the relationship between the receiver and the tanker. It’s amazing how much the larger receivers move the tanker around when they’re in close proximity.

  • bt

    says:

    Pontius,

    I believe the refueling receiver came from the Wedgetail design. However, the internal plumbing may be slightly different as the equipment inside the fuselage are located differently. How the fuel line integrates into the main tank may be the same but the aux tank configuration is also different (because of the internal bomb bay). The basic design is the more or less the same as many of the Engineers who integrated the P-8A refueling system came from the AEW&C project.

    bt

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