KC-30A mega fuel offload record in Middle East
Not many aircraft are deployed on combat support operations during their operational development phase but the RAAF KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport has done just that, and earlier this year the operating squadron reached a milestone no other RAAF aircraft has achieved. Aircraft of No 33 Squadron have offloaded a staggering 50 million pounds of fuel to coalition aircraft in the Middle East region since September 2014.
Flying as part of Air Task Group (ATG) 630 for Operation OKRA, the KC-30A reached the milestone figure in April during a sortie air refuelling a pair of RAAF F/A-18A Hornets. As of May 2016, the ATG630 Air Mobility Element has conducted 631 sorties with the KC-30A, and flown more than 5,000 hours.
Commander ATG630, Air Commodore Antony Martin, said the KC-30A MRTT was an essential enabler for Operation OKRA missions, saying that the KC-30A air refuelling tasking has sustained aircraft conducting the full range of missions over Iraq and Syria.
“The KC-30A is a key part of the Coalition’s success in disrupting and degrading the Daesh threat in Iraq,” Air Commodore Martin said.
“The ATG630 Air Mobility Element has built the KC-30A’s reputation as the ‘tanker of choice’ among Coalition air forces here”
Operation OKRA missions required the use of nearly all the KC-30A’s suite of refuelling systems. In a typical sortie, the KC-30A crew employed both the wing-mounted refuelling pods and the tail-mounted refuelling boom to transfer fuel. The KC-30 takes off with more than 100 tonnes of fuel on board, and can give away more than half of that flying a sortie over Iraq.
Often, the Air Mobility Element flew back-to-back KC-30A missions, returning to the main air operating base in the Middle East to change crew and refuel before launching again.
The aircraft’s capability was demonstrated during a routine sortie on April 30, beginning by refuelling a pair of United States Navy Super Hornets flying from an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf.
The process begins with a hose-and-drogue being unreeled from pods beneath each wing of the KC-30A, trailing a pair of baskets for the Super Hornets to intercept with a refuelling probe.