Air Marshal Brown Discusses the KC-30A: During Operation OKRA


2015-06-29 Air Marshal Geoff Brown, AO, Chief of Air Force talks about Air to Air refueling operations in the Middle East Region while flying aboard the KC-30A

He highlighted the significant reliability of the tanker and its contribution.

The Aussies have been operating 1 tanker from 33rd squadron and it has delivered more than 20 million pounds of fuel over its 6-7 months in the Iraq operations.

While Brown was onboard, the Aussie tanker is seen refueling USMC hornets from VMFA-232, the “Red Devils: based at Miramar.

Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 10.24.09 AM

Australia’s Air Task Group (ATG) as part of Operation OKRA comprises six RAAF F/A-18A Hornets, an E-7A Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft and a KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport aircraft.

Nearly 400 personnel have deployed to the Middle East as part of, or in direct support of the ATG.

Operation OKRA is the Australian Defence Force’s contribution to the international effort to combat the Daesh terrorist threat in Iraq. Australia’s contribution is being closely coordinated with the Iraqi government, Gulf nations and a broad coalition of international partners.


KC30A Over Iraq from on Vimeo.

Credit: Australian Ministry of Defence

The KC-30A and the Airbus tankers of three other allied air forces have made major contributions to supporting the air forces engaged in the operations in Iraq and Syria.

According to ACC Commander, “Hawk” Carlisle:

The coalition partners are shaping new approaches and capabilities as well.

Four air forces are tanking using Airbus tankers during operations.

Brown Aboard KC-30A

According to the head of the Australian Air Mobility Group, Air Commodore Warren McDonald:

Operation Okra has accelerated the maturing process of the KC-30A. 

At the end of 2013, the squadron was transferred from a project focused Transition Team to Number 86 Wing – and in doing so was placed directly into the hands of the war fighter.

In 2014 the Wing, in conjunction with the project office, addressed the training and key operational issues that were preventing the full utilization of the KC-30A.

The shift in operational focus, as a result of transferring the KC-30A to the Wing, is reflected in the increase in AAR from 40% to 75%.

The deployment to the Middle East has also accelerated the certification of aircraft able to be tanked by the KC-30A.

In three months, we have dramatically increased the number of aircraft certified. 

This would not have happened without the press of events and the operational tempo associated with the deployment.

It is the tanker of choice in Iraq we are being told by coalition partners.

According to Australian Aviation:

Commander Air Mobility Group Air Commodore Warren McDonald CSC has been appointed the next Deputy Chief – DCAF – of the Royal Australian Air Force.

McDonald, who will be promoted to Air Vice-Marshal, will assume the role of DCAF in July, when current deputy chief Air Vice-Marshal Leo Davies will be appointed Chief of Air Force, in turn replacing the current retiring chief, Air Marshal Geoff Brown.

And the same source indicated in a May 15, 2015 article that the Aussie tanker was close to finalizing its operational boom as well:

Two KC-30A crews have completed the first boom contact by the aircraft in RAAF service.

The first KC-30’s crew deployed the 17-metre-long Aerial Refuelling Boom System (ARBS) to make 14 successful contacts with the refuelling receptacle of a second KC-30 during a three-hour flight out of RAAF Base Amberley southwest of Brisbane on May 13.

No fuel was transferred between the aircraft.

Royal Australian Air Force KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport aircraft conduct their first air-to-air refuelling boom contact. *** Local Caption *** On 13 May 2015, the first air refuelling boom contact was made by a RAAF crew of the KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft. During a three hour flight from RAAF Base Amberley, the crew deployed the 17-meter long Aerial Refuelling Boom System (ARBS) which is mounted beneath the tail of the fuselage. Using fly-by-wire controls, the crew made 14 successful contact between the ARBS and a refuelling receptacle of another KC-30A, although no fuel was transferred. The RAAF operates five KC-30As, the first being introduced in mid-2011. Each KC-30A can carry more than 100 tonnes of fuel, using the ARBS or a pair of hose-and-drogue refuelling pods to offload the fuel in-flight. Credit: Australian MoD
Royal Australian Air Force KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport aircraft conduct their first air-to-air refuelling boom contact. Credit: Australian MoD

The Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) stated in March that the KC-30 project – AIR 5402 – had been removed from the Projects of Concern list, after an extensive development and testing program led to issues that were previously identified with the introduction of the ARBS being resolved.

“More training flights are being flown to ensure aircrew are experienced with the operation of the ARBS,” said Air Vice-Marshal Gavin Turnbull, Air Commander Australia. “We will shortly begin training flights with the KC-30A using its ARBS to refuel the E-7A Wedgetail.

“The KC-30A has already been cleared to refuel other aircraft in flight with its hose-and-drogue refuelling pods, which are mounted beneath the wings. The refuelling pods have been used to great effect in Operation OKRA by refuelling RAAF Hornets and Super Hornets over Iraq, as well as coalition strike aircraft.”

The ARBS is capable of offloading fuel at a rate of 4,500 litres per minute, and is also compatible with the C-17 Globemaster. In the future, the boom will be used to refuel the F-35 Lightning II and P-8 Poseidon.