AirAsia Pacific

Airbus, Singapore Complete Automatic Refueling With A330 Tanker, F-15s

Airbus and the Singaporean Air Force have completed a series of automatic air-to-air refueling between an A330 multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) and F-15 Eagle fighter jets.

The campaign supports the certification of the A330/F-15 automated refueling setup slated for certification in 2024, which will make the Southeast Asian nation’s air force the “first in the world to have a boom automatic refueling capability with all of its receivers.”

The demonstration involved over 500 automated wet and dry contacts with the service’s full fleet of receiver aircraft, including the F-15SG, the Singaporean variant of the US-developed F-15E Strike Eagle.

Future of Air-to-Air Refueling

Throughout the activity, several automatic refueling tests were facilitated in night conditions.

Additional flights involved A330 MRTTs and F-16s to obtain further data in support of the automated system’s maturation and night capabilities.

Meanwhile, standard air-to-air refueling with F-15SGs was conducted in partnership with the National Institute for Aerospace Technology, a Spanish certification authority, to validate the setup in different weather conditions.

A330 multi-role transport aircraft
A330 multi-role transport aircraft. Photo: Airbus

“The A330 MRTT has made the future of air-to-air refuelling a reality as a result of the joint efforts of Airbus and the Republic of Singapore Air Force,” Airbus Military Systems Head Jean-Brice Dumont said.

“This new milestone will enable… a capability that can be extended to refuelling receivers from other nations.”

In 2022, Airbus’ A330 MRTT became the first international tanker aircraft certified for automatic air-to-air refueling in daylight scenarios, with both A330s and F-16s as receivers.

Latest A330 Milestones

NATO’s A330 MRTT fleet achieved initial operational capability for various mission sets in March.

In June, Airbus and Lockheed Martin teamed with GE Aerospace to provide an engine for a future tanker aircraft based on the A330M.

The platform’s concept, called LMXT, was unveiled in 2021. Work for the project commenced in February 2022.

In September, Airbus announced plans for alternative refueling demonstrations with A330M following the success of the approach with the A400M Atlas tanker.

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