By Murielle Delaporte
Afghanistan and operations in the Middle East against jihadist terror groups mark the rebirth of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as probably the most modern and innovative air force among US allies and partners.
The Aussies deployed a new force package during their most recent Middle East engagement, as C-17s, F/A-18As and F/A-18Fs operated with the E-7 Wedgetail Air Battle Management aircraft and the A330 MRTT tanker.
During a visit in March 2018 to RAAF Richmond near Sydney, I discussed the RAAF’s experience with the head of the Air Mobility Command of the RAAF, Air Commodore Bill “K9” Kourelakos….
For the Aussies, their experience in the Middle East with this new air combat package is also about “closing the triangle between NATO, the United States and Australia” in terms of interoperability.
Kourelakos says the RAAF has de facto become a key force knitting the coalition together by acquiring clearance to refuel more and more aircraft. Today the KC-30A can refuel the F-16, Tornado, F/A-18, E-7, KC-30, B-1 and the F-35A. And at the time of the interview it was acquiring certification for the P-8A. “With the coming of the F-35, we are expanding our work on small receiver operations with fighters”, he noted.
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