A Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Airbus Defence & Space A330 multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) has successfully refuelled a Boeing C-17A for the first time.
The milestone took place on 10 February, with the RAAF tanker delivering 6,800kg (15,000lb) of fuel to the USAF C-17A over Edwards Air Force Base in California, says Australia’s Department of Defence.
The 5h sortie saw 39 contacts made between the two jets using the A330 MRTT’s boom, which is designated KC-30A in Australian service.
The RAAF says air-to-air refuelling increases the C-17A’s range, allowing it to fly heavier payloads over longer distances. The US trial sets the stage for air-to-air refuelling between the tanker and Canberra’s own fleet of C-17As.
Australian C-17A pilots have already conducted refuelling trials with Republic of Singapore Air Force KC-135Rs in late 2015. Singapore plans to replace these aircraft with six A330 MRTTs.
The RAAF operates five KC-30As, with two more joining in 2017. It also has eight C-17As.
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