The KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) is a heavily modified Airbus A330 airliner, and enables Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) to conduct air-to-air refuelling and provide strategic air lift. It features advanced communication and navigation systems, and an electronic warfare self-protection system for shielding against threats from surface-to-air missiles. The Air Force’s six KC-30A aircraft are based at RAAF Base Amberley, operated by No. 33 Squadron. In 2015, Australian 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.
Designated as KC-30A, the Royal Australian Air Force Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transports (MRTTs)are equipped with both an Aerial Refuelling Boom System (ARBS) and two Cobham 905E under-wing refuelling pods. The aircraft are powered by two General Electric CF6-80E1A3 engines. Australian Government initially arranged to procure four aircraft with an option to obtain a fifth; this option for a fifth aircraft was exercised to allow for two simultaneous deployments of two aircraft, the fifth being for contingency coverage. Australian KC-30A are operated by No. 33 Squadron RAAF based at RAAF Base Amberley.
The KC-30A MRTT is fitted with two forms of air-to-air refuelling systems: an Advanced Refuelling Boom System mounted on the tail of the aircraft; and a pair of all-electric refuelling 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 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; and Other KC-30As. It is also compatible with refuelling P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft, F-35A Lightning II, and foreign aircraft such as the F-16C Fighting Falcon and B-1B Lancer.
In its transport role, the KC-30A is capable of carrying 270 passengers. It comes with under-floor cargo compartments which can accommodate 34,000 kilograms of military and civilian cargo pallets and containers. In August 2013, the KC-30A made its debut as a VIP transport, ferrying Prime Minister Rudd and an entourage to Al Minhad Air Base, United Arab Emirates. In August 2014, Defence Minister David Johnston announced the intention to buy two more KC-30As, one with a VIP layout for the Prime Minister’s use. In 2016, it was decided to add a “modest” VIP fitout, including seating, meeting spaces and communication facilities, to a single KC-30, which remains primarily used as a tanker.