2016-08-11 RAAF BASE DARWIN, Australia
For the first time, U.S. Air Force F-16C aircraft have deployed to Exercise PITCH BLACK 16 (PB16) in partnership with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport.
On July 19, a RAAF KC-30A flew non-stop with six F-16Cs from Kadena Air Base, Japan to RAAF Base Darwin in just over six hours.
RAAF Group Captain (GPCAPT) Adam Williams, Officer Commanding of No. 86 Wing, said it was the first time that a RAAF air-to-air refuelling tanker deployed in support of U.S. Air Force fighter aircraft to Australia.
“The KC-30A conducted 35 contacts with the six F-16Cs, transferring a total of 55.8 tonnes of fuel to the F-16Cs, or nearly 70,000 litres,” GPCAPT Williams said. “The air-to-air refuelling boom on the KC-30A performed well, with no significant issues.”
“Despite some periods of moderate turbulence en route, they completed the 5,400-kilometre journey safely,” Williams said.
Return trips saw the KC-30A deploy a total of 12 F-16Cs with the 14th Fighter Squadron in the week prior to PB16.
Commander of the 14th FS, Lt. Col. Mark Heusinkveld, said the support provided by the KC-30A was a testament to the interoperability between partner nations at PB16.
“The refueling not only provides mutually beneficial training between U.S. and Australian air forces, but also demonstrates the close military ties between our nations,” Lt. Col. Mark Heusinkveld said.
“It’s always advantageous when training opportunities like these present themselves,” Heusinkveld added.
“This strengthening of our multilateral relationship will only continue as we train and improve our alliance capabilities in the upcoming weeks.”
The deployment builds on successful refuelling trials between the RAAF KC-30A and U.S. Air Force F-16s assigned to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., conducted in late 2015 and early 2016.
To refuel the F-16Cs, the RAAF KC-30A used its 18-metre-long Advanced Refuelling Boom System (ARBS), controlled by an Air Refuelling Operator in the KC-30A’s cockpit through the use of fly-by-wire controls and 3D Glasses.
As each F-16C flew in close formation behind the KC-30A, the ARBS would ‘plug’ into a fuel receptacle on the F-16C and commence refuelling.
GPCAPT Williams said the KC-30A would refuel U.S. Air Force F-16Cs during PB16, as well as the E-7A Wedgetail and F/A-18s participating in the exercise.
“This deployment is a significant milestone for the RAAF’s KC-30A, as it demonstrates our ability to refuel international F-16s within the Asia Pacific region as well as during operations further abroad,” said Williams. “This will further reinforce the close bonds between our Air Forces in the field of air-to-air refuelling.”
PB16 is scheduled from July 29-19 Aug, 2016, and is the RAAF Chief of Air Force’s biennial capstone international engagement activity with forces drawn from a wide range of regional, coalition and allied nations. PB16 allows participant nations to exercise deployed units in the tasking, planning and execution of Offensive Counter Air (OCA) and Offensive Air Support (OAS) while utilizing one of the largest training airspace areas in the world.
Credit: Australian Defence Force
August 9, 2016