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Australia upgrading communication, mission systems on its MRTT fleet

Australian Air Force A330

The Australian defense ministry has awarded Airbus a contract to develop a communications and mission system modernization upgrade for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) A330 multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) fleet.

The scope of work, which will meet the air force interoperability needs under their new operational requirements, will mainly cover a retrofit package. This includes new and additional communications capabilities and enhanced mission systems.

Split across two contracts, phase 1 will see Airbus carry out the design and systems development and integration ahead of the critical design review maturity gate. Phase 2 will see Airbus install and deliver a prototype KC-30 aircraft (the name used by the RAAF to the A330 MRTT) for use in the certification and qualification process, ahead of finalizing and supplying the modification kits for entire fleet. Subsequent retrofit of the remaining six A330s will be under customer responsibility.

In addition, Airbus will provide the necessary data packs and support to ensure this upgrade features in the existing RAAF A330 MRTT full flight simulator (FFS), the integrated procedures trainer (IPT) and the remote air refuelling operator (RARO) console part task trainer (PTT).

Australia’s KC-30A MRTT is fitted with two types of air-to-air refuelling systems: an refuelling boom system mounted on the tail of the aircraft; and a pair of all-electric refuelling hose-and-drogue pods under each wing. These systems are controlled by an air refuelling operator in the cockpit, who can view refuelling on 2D and 3D screens. The KC-30A can carry a fuel load of 111 tons and transfer part of that load to compatible aircraft, including other KC-30As.