The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has completed refuelling trials involving one of its Airbus Defence & Space A330 multi-role tanker transports and the Lockheed Martin F-35A.

The work saw the tanker, designated the KC-30A in Australian service, conduct 479 “dry” and 24 “wet” contacts using its advanced refuelling boom system (ARBS). The latter saw a total of 95t of fuel transferred.

RAAF refuels KC-35A

Australian Department of Defence

During the trials the A330 was flown from Edwards AFB in California. It has since returned to Australia. The trials will allow Australia's and foreign F-35As be refuelled from the KC-30A.

“These trials are another important step in building KC-30A capability, and the results will inform the training practices of current and future RAAF personnel on both aircraft types,” says the service's Wg Cdr Kelly.

“The impact of the KC-30A is already being felt in the Middle East region, where the ARBS and hose-and-drogue capabilities are enabling RAAF and Coalition aircraft to fly sorties of more than 10 hours.”

KC-30A F-35A

Australian Department of Defence

The next tanking trials RAAF KC-30s will conduct will involve the Boeing 737-based P-8A Poseidon, of which Australia has committed to buying eight, and the Boeing C-17, which Australia also operates.

Meanwhile, Airbus says that additional testing also involving A330 tankers from the United Arab Emirates and the UK over the next 12 months will involve refuelling Boeing B-1B, F-15, F/A-18, Fairchild Republic A-10, Lockheed F-16 and F-35A and B-model aircraft and McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier IIs, with work to be performed from Edwards AFB and NAS Patuxent River, Maryland.