Milestone in air-to-air refuelling with Japan

29 April 2023

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has completed air-to-air refuelling trials with Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) F-15J and F-15DJ Eagle jets for the first time.

Conducted in Japan from March 29 to April 26, the trials involved a RAAF KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) using its advanced refuelling boom to connect with the F-15s in flight.

A total of 11 flights and 325 contacts were made between the aircraft across 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 Vice-Marshal Darren Goldie, Air Commander Australia, said these latest trials would further enhance air cooperation between Australia and Japan.

“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 Goldie said.

“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.”

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.

“This cooperation and mutual understanding is an essential part of ensuring a secure, resilient and prosperous Indo-Pacific,” Air Vice-Marshal Goldie said.


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