Next Step in Australian and Japanese Interoperability: KC-30 Refueling of F-2


In a story published by the Australian Department of Defence on April 29, 2022, the RAAF was noted as achieving a new milestone in its refueling of a Japanese fighter aircraft.

For the first time, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has conducted air-to-air refuelling flight testing with the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF, or Koku-Jieitai).

Conducted in April over three weeks, the flight test engineering program in Japan involved a RAAF KC-30A multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) and Mitsubishi F-2 aircraft of the JASDF.

Air Vice-Marshal Darren Goldie, Air Commander Australia, said the successful flight test program was a leap forward for Australia and Japan’s interoperability, and would facilitate the increasing complexity and sophistication of bilateral engagement between both nations.

“This is the first time that a RAAF aircraft has refuelled a JASDF aircraft, and will help build the special strategic partnership between Australia and Japan,” Air Vice-Marshal Goldie said.

“The success of this program will facilitate Japan’s participation in Exercise Pitch Black 2022, which will take place in the Northern Territory this August and September.

“Working together will ensure we can continue to uphold and reinforce a secure, inclusive, and resilient Indo-Pacific region.”

Over a series of flights, aircrew and engineers ensured the mechanical compatibility between these systems, and that both aircraft can be flown safely in a range of configurations and lighting conditions.

The RAAF flight test team has extensive experience with KC-30A refuelling trials in Australia, the United States and Singapore, with this most recent trial being the first time it has worked with the JASDF.

“The flight test program represents two years of close cooperation between our own Aircraft Research and Development Unit (ARDU), and the JASDF Air Development and Test Wing (ADTW),” Air Vice-Marshal Goldie said.

In recent years, JASDF and RAAF personnel have worked together following natural disasters in Tonga and Australia, and trained with each other during Exercise Cope North in Guam, and Exercise Bushido Guardian in Japan.

Featured photo: An air-to-air refuelling flight test between Royal Australian Air Force KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport aircraft from No. 33 Squadron and Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF or Koku-Jieitai) Mitsubishi F-2A over Japan.

Over 4-28 April 22, a flight test engineering program was conducted in Japan between the RAAF and Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF, or Koku-Jieitai) to provide a refuelling clearance between the KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) and Mitsubishi F-2 fighter aircraft.

This marked the first air-to-air refuelling activity between Australia and Japan, and will facilitate closer and more complex engagement between both nations including JASDF participation in Exercise Pitch Black 22. The RAAF operates a fleet of seven KC-30As from RAAF Base Amberley in Queensland, with each one able to carry more than 100 tonnes of fuel.