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Republic of Singapore Air Force A330 MRTT Completes Automatic Refuelling Tests with F-15


Republic of Singapore Air Force A330 MRTT Completes Automatic Refuelling Tests with F-15

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Republic of Singapore Air Force A330 MRTT Completes Automatic Refuelling Tests with F-15
RSAF A330 MRTT in a refuelling operation with a RSAF F-15SG fighter.

Airbus and the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) worked together to successfully complete the automatic air-to-air refuelling (A3R) flight test campaign with the Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) and F-15 fighter, ahead of its certification in the first half of 2024. Over the course of three weeks in August, a RSAF A330 MRTT made more than 500 automated wet and dry contacts with the air force’s full fleet of receiver aircraft, including the F-15SG aircraft, a customised variant of the US-built F-15E Strike Eagle air-to-ground fighter jet. The flight tests with F-15SG were conducted in Singapore, covering the whole operational AAR envelope in different weather conditions under the supervision of the Spanish certifying authority, called INTA (National Institute for Aerospace Technology).

“The A330 MRTT has made the future of air-to-air refuelling a reality as a result of the joint efforts of Airbus and the Republic of Singapore Air Force,” said Jean-Brice Dumont, Head of Military Air Systems at Airbus Defence and Space. “This new milestone will enable the RSAF to become the first Air Force in the world to have a boom automatic refuelling capability with all of its receivers, a capability that can be extended to refuelling receivers from other nations”.

A330 MRTT clears F-15 fighters for automatic refuelling
Republic of Singapore Air Force Airbus A330 MRTT clears F-15SG fighters for automatic refuelling. (Photo by Airbus)

During the test campaign, further flights were carried out in night conditions, not only with F-15s but also with the RSAF’s A330 MRTT and F-16s as receivers for data collection, to complete the development and enable night capabilities with the automated system. In July 2022, the A330 MRTT became the world’s first tanker certified for automatic air-to-air refuelling operations in daylight conditions with F-16s and A330 MRTTs as receivers. The automatic refuelling system reduces air-refuelling operator workload, improves safety and optimises the air-to-air refuelling transfer rate in operational conditions to maximise air superiority. Combat proven since 2014, the Airbus A330 MRTT is certified for aerial refuelling with both boom and hose-and-drogue systems for F-15, F-16, F-35, A330 MRTT, AWACS, Eurofighter and many more aircraft.

The Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) is a European aerial refuelling and military transport aircraft based on the civilian Airbus A330-200 airliner. A total of 16 countries have placed firm orders for approximately 68 aircraft, of which 51 had been delivered by 30 November 2020.[2] A version of the A330 MRTT, the EADS/Northrop Grumman KC-45, was selected by the United States Air Force for its aerial tanker replacement programme, but the programme was cancelled. The A330 MRTT has a maximum fuel capacity of 111,000 kg (245,000 lb) without the use of additional fuel tanks, leaving space for 45,000 kg (99,000 lb) of additional cargo. The A330 MRTT cabin can be modified to carry up to 380 passengers in a single-class configuration, allowing a complete range of configurations from maximised troop transport to complex customisation suitable for VIP and guest missions.

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