RAAF KC-30A during Pitch Black Exercise 2012 (all photos : Aus DoD)
The Royal Australian Air Force has deployed its newest aircraft, the KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport, to RAAF Base Townsville for Exercise Pitch Black 12.
This deployment is the first multi-national exercise for the KC-30A, which is designed to perform airborne refuelling.
Measuring 58 metres in length and with a wingspan of 60 metres, the KC-30A is a heavily-modified Airbus A330 airliner.
Wing Commander Geoff Fox, Commanding Officer of No. 33 Squadron, said this deployment was a step towards bringing the KC-30A to an initial operational capability later this year.
“While we have a limited level of involvement in Pitch Black, we are conducting this deployment away from our home base to help prepare for future exercises and operations,” Wing Commander Fox said.
The KC-30A will transit to the Northern Territory skies to conduct refuelling with aircraft in the exercise.
It will unreel a hose-and-drogue from a wing-mounted pod, which is ‘plugged’ by a refuelling probe on a RAAF F/A-18 Hornet – with both aircraft travelling in formation at more than 500 kilometres per hour.
“We can take off from a base and fly to a position 1800 kilometres away, and remain in that airspace for four hours with 50 tonnes of fuel available for other aircraft,” Wing Commander Fox said.
“In a big country like Australia, we are an extremely important capability for helping other aircraft to do their job.
“Future Pitch Black exercises will see the KC-30A refuelling more aircraft, including the Super Hornet, Wedgetail, and some of our international partners,” Wing Commander Fox said.
The first two KC-30As were delivered to Air Force in mid-2011. Delivery of all five aircraft will be completed by late 2012.
The KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport carries around 100 tonnes of fuel most of which can be offloaded to other aircraft.