This video footage is of a KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) refuelling No. 3 Squadron F-35As on their long journey from the USA to their new home at Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Williamtown last year. Designated as KC-30A, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) A330 MRTTs are equipped with both an Aerial Refuelling Boom System (ARBS) and two Cobham 905E under-wing refuelling pods. The KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) is a heavily modified Airbus A330 airliner, and RAAF to conduct air-to-air refuelling and provide strategic air lift. The Royal Australian Air Force’s six KC-30A aircraft are based at RAAF Base Amberley, operated by No. 33 Squadron.
In 2015, Government announced the purchase of a sixth and seventh KC-30A aircraft, and under the 2016 Defence White Paper, an eighth and ninth aircraft are under consideration. Since September 2014, a single KC-30A has been deployed to the Middle East Region for Operation OKRA. The KC-30A can carry a fuel load of more than 100 tonnes, and transfer part of that load to compatible aircraft, including: F/A-18A/B Hornets; F/A-18F Super Hornets; E/A-18G Growlers; E-7A Wedgetails; C-17A Globemaster III; KC-30As, P-8A , F-35A Lightning II, and foreign aircraft such as the F-16C Fighting Falcon and B-1B Lancer.
The F-35A Lightning II is the Australian Defence Force’s first fifth-generation air combat capability. It is a highly advanced multi-role, supersonic, stealth fighter which will meet Australia’s requirements to defeat current and emerging threats.The F-35A is at the forefront of air combat technology. Its advanced sensors and data fusion allows it to gather more information and share it with other Air Force aircraft, Navy ships and Army units quicker than ever before. This will greatly enhance the Australian Defence Force’s situational awareness and combat effectiveness. The F-35A provides its pilots with significantly higher levels of lethality and survivability in combat.
Australia has committed to 72 F-35A aircraft for three operational squadrons at RAAF Base Williamtown and RAAF Base Tindal, and a training squadron at RAAF Base Williamtown. The first F-35A aircraft was accepted into Australian service in 2018, with the first arriving in country in December that year. The first F-35A squadron, No. 3 Squadron, will be operational in 2021. Its first four aircraft are to be ferried to Australia in 2018 to support operational evaluation activities, before the type achieves initial operating capability in 2020. All 72 aircraft are expected to be fully operational by 2023. In the future, a fourth operational squadron will be considered for RAAF Base Amberley, for a total of 100 F-35A aircraft.