The Royal Australian Air Force has achieved final operational capability for its fleet of Airbus Defence & Space A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport aircraft.
Designated as the KC-30A in RAAF service, the milestone signifies that the full capability of the aircraft, including using its refueling boom, is now available.
“This is a significant milestone for the fleet, which is now able to refuel a range of aircraft from our Air Force and our international partners,” says defence minister Marise Payne.
The RAAF took delivery of its first KC-30 in 2011, and initial operating capability was achieved in 2013.
Chief of air force Air Marshall Leo Davies says that the tanker has undergone a wide range of operational test and evaluation activities, including refueling United States Air Force F-35A Lightning II aircraft.
“This was a vital test of the KC-30A, to ensure we are prepared for our future force, including our F-35A arriving in late 2018,” he adds.
The KC-30s have been used for some time in both transport and taker roles. It has played a key role supporting Australian, US and other allied aircraft being used in the Middle East to attack Islamic State targets.
Airbus Defence & Space and the RAAF recently announced a deal to further develop the KC-30’s capabilities, which will include research into automating the aircraft’s boom refueling process.
Australia operates five KC-30s, and is acquiring two more A330-200s for conversion to KC-30s from CIT Aerospace. Those additional aircraft, which will also serve as VIP transports, will be delivered in 2017 and 2019.