Australia accepts last KC-30A tanker/transport

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Australia has formally accepted the last of its five A330-200-based multi-role tanker transports (MRTTs) from Airbus Military and expects to achieve an initial service milestone with the type later this month.

Noting that earlier examples of the locally-designated KC-30A are already involved in "routine refuelling missions" with Boeing F/A-18A/B combat aircraft, the Royal Australian Air Force's commander air lift group, Air Cdre Gary Martin, says: "We expect to declare initial operating capability before the end of the year."

Powered by General Electric CF6-80E engines, the RAAF's KC-30As are configured with under-wing hose-and-drogue refuelling pods and an advanced refuelling boom system (ARBS). The aircraft, four of which were converted by Qantas Defence Services in Brisbane, have a maximum fuel capacity of 111t, and can also carry up to 270 passengers.

The RAAF received its first A330 tanker in 2006, and accepted its next three in 2008 and 2009, according to Flightglobal's MiliCAS database. The service delayed acceptance of its final example pending the resolution of technical fixes, including with the performance of the aircraft's ARBS structure.

In a statement issued by the company on 3 December, Airbus Military's vice-president derivative programmes, Antonio Caramazana, hails the "co-operative role" played by the RAAF in bringing the A330 MRTT into operational use. The company's customer base for the new-generation tanker also includes Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the UK, with France also having expressed an interest in acquiring the type.