Testing Allied Tankers

An Australian KC-30 tanker is undergoing trials at Edwards AFB, Calif., to certify it to refuel US Air Force and other coalition aircraft. The Royal Australian Air Force KC-30 is the first of three international tankers Edwards is evaluating under the Coalition Tanker Aerial Refueling Certification program. “It gives us capability for the coalition effort. We don’t have to rely [solely] on US tankers to support our aircraft,” 418th Flight Test Squadron project manager Adrian Martinez said in a release. In addition to the RAAF KC-30, the program will test Italy’s KC-767, and the United Arab Emirates A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport for compatibility with the A-10, B-1, C-17, F-15, and F-16. The first phase of tests involving an F-16 kicked off at the end of last month, and stretches to Dec. 18. “Early next year we are planning to execute a portion of the aerial refueling testing that requires an instrumented C-17,” concluding with the A-10 next summer, added Martinez. The three international tankers are conducting a separate certification program with the F-35 Lightning II at Edwards, which will end with the UAE in mid-2016.