The latest rotation of the RAAF's KC-30A tanker transport aircraft has returned to Australia following a successful four month deployment to the Middle East.
The aircraft completed 95 missions, equating to 776 hours of flying over Iraq and Syria, refuelling coalition strike aircraft with 5.6 million pounds of fuel.
According to the commander of the Australian Air Task Element, Wing Commander Craig Stallard, the tanker’s contribution was highly valued by coalition partners.
“Over the last four months, the KC-30A carried out air-to-air refuelling operations with American, British, French and Italian fighter aircraft,” Wing Commander Stallard said. “The reliability and large air-to-air refuelling capability of the KC-30A has given the coalition persistence and efficiency in the fight against Daesh.”
The KC-30A can support the deployment of four fighter aircraft over 5,000km and can refuel a broad range of aircraft types. It refuelled Russian-built Sukhoi fighter aircraft for the first time this year as part of the Indian Air Force's participation in Exercise Pitch Black.
Director of Coalition Air Operations US Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Kevin Fletcher said the KC-30A contribution had been warmly received.
“The KC-30A’s air-to-air refuelling has meant that we can provide our strike aircraft with more time in the area of operations,” Lieutenant Colonel Fletcher said.
“These are aircraft conducting vital counter-Daesh operations and supporting coalition troops on the ground.”
Coinciding with the return to Australia of the KC-30A, an E-7A Wedgetail arrived in the Middle East in early October. The E-7A controls the tactical movement of aircraft over Iraq and Syria.
According to recent statements by Defence Minister Christopher Pyne and Minister for Defence Industry Steven Ciobo, the Wedgetail is widely recognised as the most advanced aircraft of its type in the western world, and has achieved a mission success rate of 98 per cent during the four years it has been deployed to the Middle East.
The ADF deploys the Wedgetail and the KC-30A to the Middle East on a rotational basis as part of Australia’s contribution to the fight against Daesh.