Australia formally accepted its first of five KC-30A tankers on 1 June, beginning the restoration of an in-flight refuelling capability that has lain dormant since the retirement of its last Boeing 707 tanker three years ago.
The handover took place at the Royal Australian Air Force's Amberley air base in Queensland, where the first Airbus A330-based KC-30A touched down on 31 May following a three-day delivery flight from Airbus Military's Getafe site near Madrid, Spain.
© Australian DoD
"This is a very major and long awaited milestone for the A330 MRTT [multi-role tanker transport] programme," said Airbus Military chief executive Domingo Ureña.
The RAAF should receive three more KC-30As this year, followed by the fifth and final aircraft in 2012. The service operated a 707 tanker fleet for 29 years until the type's retirement in 2008. Over the last three years it has relied on using the tankers of allies and private contractor Omega Aerial Refueling Services.