Airbus Military's A330-based multi-role tanker/transport (MRTT) has for the first time conducted the simultaneous in-flight refuelling of two aircraft, by hooking up with a pair of Spanish air force Boeing EF-18A fighters.
Conducted using the first of five tankers on order for the Royal Australian Air Force, the milestone follows other recent firsts with "wet" and night-time contacts involving the type. The modified airliner is equipped with a tail refuelling boom and two Cobham 905E under-wing hose-and-drogue pods.
Airbus Military says the tanker performed a 2h sortie from its Getafe site near Madrid, in the course of which the fighters - which were deployed from Torejon air base - made 13 contacts, including 11 simultaneously.
© Airbus Military
A total of 11.4t of fuel was transferred at an altitude of around 15,000ft (4,570m) and a speed of 250kt (460km/h), it says. This represents roughly half of the total volume so far delivered during flight testing of the A330 MRTT.
The RAAF will take delivery of its first KC-30 tanker by mid-2010, according to Airbus Military. The company also has orders to provide A330-based tankers to Saudi Arabia (six), the United Arab Emirates (three) and the UK (14).