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RAAF KC-30 to begin P-8A refuelling trials in early 2017

The Royal Australian Air Force is preparing to add the Boeing P-8A Poseidon to the growing list of aircraft that can be refuelled by its Airbus KC-30A multirole tanker type.

Canberra recently certified its A330-based KC-30 to refuel the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III and the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II and is now pressing forward with P-8A trials.

Australia could procure as many as 12 P-8As and has already committed to eight examples, with first delivery expected in 2017.

US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) will hire Boeing to support the certification effort over 14 flights beginning in 2017, according to a recent contracting notice.

Flight testing "is scheduled to begin in February 2017" and the expected period of performance of the forthcoming contract with Boeing is from November 2016 to June 2017, according to the presolicitation notice, which seeks comments by 10 March.

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USAF/RAAF

RAAF has also been working with the US Air Force to expand the range aircraft that can receive fuel from the KC-30’s fly-by-wire boom refuelling system and wing-mounted aerial refuelling pods.

On 25 September, the KC-30 became the second foreign-owned tanker to refuel the F-35, following on the heels of Italy’s Boeing KC-767.

On 10 February, an Australian KC-30 passed fuel to a USAF C-17 over Edwards AFB in California.

Australia is building its air component to seven KC-30 tanker-transports, 10 C-17s and eventually 72 F-35As.

Spirit Aerosystems began major assembly of Australia’s first 737-800ERX-based P-8A armed maritime patrol aircraft in November.

In January, the navy put Boeing on contract for Canberra's second batch of P-8As, bringing the total RAAF buy to eight with options for another four.

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USAF/RAAF

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