Air Force KC-30A refuels USAF F-16 fighters


As part of the operational development of the KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) a KC-30 from 36 Squadron conducted seven flights with US Air Force F-16s using the tanker’s 18‑metre-long Advanced Refuelling Boom System.

While Australia does not operate the F-16, the jet is one of the most prolific combat aircraft in service in the world today, and would likely be involved in multinational coalition exercises and operations.

Wing Commander Grant Kelly said the trials would yield a conditional clearance for the KC-30A to refuel USAF F-16s.

“Clearing the KC-30A to refuel the F-16 is a major milestone in enabling our aerial refuelling operators to refuel other boom-capable aircraft on combined operations and exercises,” he said.

“There are a number of different F-16 variants in service with the USAF and other foreign air forces which will require additional refuelling clearances.”

Air-to-air refuelling is a ‘force multiplier’ in modern air operations, enhancing the range and payload of receiver aircraft.

“The KC-30A recently refuelled the RAAF E-7A Wedgetail on Operation Okra, and boom refuelling will gradually increase on Coalition Operations in the Middle East,” WGCDR Kelly said.

The RAAF operates five KC-30A MRTTs, with two more joining the fleet from 2018.