Australia's Airbus Military A330 multirole tanker transport (MRTT) aircraft have achieved initial operational capability (IOC), with the type demonstrating an air-to-air refuelling mission on the sidelines of the Avalon show.
The aircraft, designated the KC-30A in Royal Australian Air Force service, refuelled a pair of Boeing F/A-18A Hornets from its wing-mounted hose and drogue refuelling pods. The event was witnessed by journalists travelling in the tanker's cabin.
Australia's air force has taken delivery of all five of its A330 MRTTs. The IOC milestone includes the ability to refuel F/A-18s through the hose and drogue method during daytime and night, as well as carrying a full load of passengers. The type's passenger cabin is identical to that found in Qantas Airways' commercial A330s, although the military aircraft lack an in-flight entertainment system.
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.