AirAsia PacificExercises

Australian KC-30A Tanker, Japanese F-15 Jets Conduct First Air Refueling Trials

Australia and Japan have conducted their first air-to-air refueling trials with a KC-30A multi-role tanker transport and F-15 Eagle fighter jets.

During the drill, the Royal Australian Air Force tanker replenished the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force F-15J and F-15DJ fighters mid-air with an advanced refueling boom.

The demonstration included 11 flights and 325 contacts under varying conditions and maneuvers day and night.

Observations from the trials will be used to train Australian KC-30A aircrew to refuel F-15 jets in future missions.

‘Elevating Interoperability’

The replenishment test further improves aerial teamwork between the country’s air force and its Japanese counterpart.

Mutual understanding and cooperation gained through the training are an “essential part” of securing and bolstering the Indo-Pacific airspace.

Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport conducting refuelling trials with Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) F-15DJ Eagle. *** Local Caption *** From March 29 to April 26, a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) successfully completed air-to-air refuelling trials with Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) F-15J and F-15DJ jets for the first time. The trials involved the KC-30A using its Advanced Refuelling Boom to connect with the F-15s in flight. A total of 11 flights and 325 contacts were conducted with the aircraft flying a range of manoeuvres, and in different conditions by day and night. The engineering data from these trials will allow the RAAF to authorise and train its KC-30A aircrew to refuel F-15s in future. Air-to-air refuelling extends the range and endurance of a receiver aircraft, allowing them to conduct missions over a greater distance, carry heavier payloads, or spend more time within an airspace. The RAAF operates a fleet of seven KC-30A MRTTs from RAAF Base Amberley, west of Brisbane, with each aircraft able to carry more than 100 tonnes of fuel and transfer part of that load to a receiver aircraft. Since their introduction to service in 2011, RAAF KC-30As have been used extensively in support of refuelling Australian and foreign aircraft alike.
Australian KC-30A refueling a Japanese F-15J Eagle. Photo: Australian Ministry of Defence

“Cooperation between our air forces is dependent on overcoming great distances, and air-to-air refuelling is an essential part of how we accomplish this,” Air Vice-Marshal Darren Goldie stated.

“In 2022 we conducted similar trials with JASDF F-2A fighter aircraft, which enabled their participation in Exercise Pitch Black 22 in the Northern Territory.”

“The success of these latest refuelling trials reflects our commitment to building on our deep and enduring relationship, understanding each other’s strengths, and further elevating our interoperability.”

Australian KC-30As

The Royal Australian Air Force currently deploys seven KC-30As from its home base at RAAF Amberley near Brisbane.

Each tanker can transport over 100 tons (100,000 kilograms) of fuel.

The aircraft were introduced in 2011 and have been active in replenishment operations for Australian and international aerial assets.

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