The RAAF’s Airbus KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) deployment to the Middle East under Operation Okra has marked 100 million pounds (over 45,000 metric tonnes) of fuel offloaded during air-to-air refuelling operations.
Since September 2014, the RAAF had maintained a single KC-30A from Amberley-based 33SQN in the Persian Gulf region to support an RAAF Air Task Group and coalition aircraft on combat operations up into Iraq and Syria.
The KC-30A was initially part of a larger ATG contingent comprising RAAF F/A-18F Super Hornets and F/A-18A classic Hornets and an E-7A Wedgetail AEW&C aircraft, but the fighters were withdrawn at the start of 2018 leaving the KC-30A and E-7A in place (they are rotated back to Australia every few months for maintenance).
“The KC-30A has been a significant force multiplier for the Air Force and has proven itself over Iraq as part of Operation OKRA,” new Chief of Joint Operations AIRMSHL Mel Hupfeld said in a statement.
“Just one KC-30A can support the deployment of four fighter aircraft over 5,000km and has the versatility to refuel a range of different aircraft types.
“With the professionalism and operational effects we bring to the global coalition, the Australian KC-30A contribution is very well regarded amongst the coalition partners.”
Some of those different types include French Dassault Rafales, UK Eurofighter Typhoons, USAF F-16s, and US Navy and USMC F/A-18s and AV-8B Harriers, as well as large transports and other tankers.
For context, a single F/A-18F Super Hornet has an internal fuel capacity of about 13,500lb (6,125kg). Therefore, 100 million pounds of fuel is the equivalent of about 7,400 Super Hornets from empty.
Allowing for smaller offloads and smaller aircraft types, it’s fair to assume the RAAF KC-30As deployed to Operation Okra have conducted well over 10,000 successful air-to-air refuellings in the four years or approximately 1,440 days of their deployment, a remarkable achievement.
VIDEO – This 2015 Defence video details RAAF KC-30A operations as part of Operation Okra.
Read more about RAAF operations in the Middle East as part of Operation Okra here.