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RAAF refuels Indonesian F-16s in midair

written by Robert Dougherty | September 1, 2023

The RAAF has conducted air-to-air refuelling with Indonesia for the first time using one of its KC-30As.

The multi-role tanker transport refuelled seven F-16 Fighting Falcons during 60 flying sorties within Indonesian airspace from 6 to 12 August.

Aircraft fly in tight formation at around 650km/h while a No. 33 Squadron KC-30A extends a 19-metre advanced refuelling boom system during air-to-air refuelling.

Commanding Officer of No. 33 Squadron Wing Commander Neil Bowen said the successful training facilitated closer and more strategic engagement between the nations.


“This training ensures both countries are contributing to the collective security in the Indo-Pacific,” WGCDR Bowen said.

“It allows the Tentara Nasional Indonesia Angkatan Udara to be more agile and combat-ready when supporting any contingency missions and provides RAAF aviators continued experience in conducting highly skilled refuelling operations in a new environment.

“Airborne refuelling is a challenge; it is a fast injection of flammable jet fuel from a tanker aircraft into a receiving aircraft, which will extend flying endurance.

“It is a vital force multiplier for air operations, allowing aircraft to cross greater distances and remain within the battlespace for longer without the need to land.”

The day and night flying exercise required 60 sorties and up to 189 boom contacts between the KC-30A and the F-16 Fighter Falcons over five days.

The KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) serves as an air-to-air refuelling aircraft, which doubles up to provide the RAAF with strategic airlift capabilities.

It was first flown by the RAAF in September 2011. The RAAF currently has six KC-30A aircraft operated by No. 33 Squadron, based at Amberley.

Since 2014, one additional KC-30A has been deployed in the Middle East under Operation Okra – the ADF’s contribution to the international coalition against Daesh in Iraq and Syria.

The KC-30A MRTT is a substantially modified military derivative of the Airbus A330-200 airliner, compatible for air-to-air refuelling of the RAAF’s F/A-18F Super Hornets, E/A-18G Growlers, E-7A Wedgetails, C-17A Globemaster III, and even other KC-30As.

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