Australia has commenced tanking trials between its Airbus Military A330 multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) aircraft and Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornets.

The trials were conducted by Canberra's Aircraft Research and Development Unit from 4-19 February, says the Royal Australian Air Force.

The testing saw 87 contacts and 76t of fuel transferred via the hose and drogue method, with both aircraft flying within a limited envelope.

KC-30A trials 

 Commonwealth of Australia

The tests took place under a range of altitudes, conditions and aircraft configurations, to assess issues such as the tanker's wake, drogue stability and the fighter's performance.

The February tests set the stage for additional tests, which should eventually clear the MRTT to support the air-to-air refuelling of Super Hornets globally.

Canberra has five MRTTs, designated the KC-30A in RAAF service. The type received its initial operational capability earlier this year, and has demonstrated the ability to refuel F/A-18A Hornet fighters through the hose and drogue method during the daytime and night, as well as carry passengers.

 KC-30A trials 2

 Commonwealth of Australia

One of Australia's MRTTs remains with Airbus Military in Getafe, Spain, where remedial work is being undertaken to resolve issues with the aircraft's aerial boom refuelling system. The service is likely to begin working with the boom at the end of 2013.

The boom will be required for the air-to-air refuelling of types such as the Boeing 737-based Wedgetail airborne early warning and control system aircraft, and Australia's Boeing C-17 strategic transports. In addition, the boom will be required for the air force's future fleet of Lockheed Martin F-35A Joint Strike Fighters.

Source: Flight International