Next Up -- Inflight Contacts, Fuel Transfers
Northrop Grumman tells ANN the KC-30
Tanker's fly-by-wire boom has completed more than 130 hours of
evaluations during 50 flights, demonstrating what the company says
is the maturity of the world's most advanced military aerial
Integrated on an A310 test-bed aircraft, the Aerial Refueling
Boom System (ARBS) being developed by Northrop Grumman's teammate
EADS has been tested throughout the full operating envelope. A team
led by Northrop Grumman and EADS is offering the A330-based KC-30
tanker, in the US Air Force's KC-X competition.
"Our team and our tanker offers the US Air Force the lowest
amount of risk with the greatest amount of capability," said Paul
Meyer, Northrop Grumman's vice president and general manager of the
KC-30 Tanker program. "By leveraging the best technology available
in a global marketplace -- like this boom system -- we're ready to
provide proven capabilities now."
Northrop also says ground-based tests with the ARBS have
validated its fuel offload capability, as well as the system's
resistance to the buildup of electrostatic charge. The A310
demonstrator aircraft is now ready for its next phase of ARBS
flight tests, which will involve in-flight contacts and airborne
fuel transfers with a variety of receiver aircraft.
The ARBS delivers a maximum nominal fuel flow rate of 1,200
gallons per minute. It features an automatic load alleviation
system that provides a large refueling envelope and enhanced
controllability, which greatly aid the boom operator and the
receiving aircraft's pilot during refueling operations. The boom's
all-electric design significantly reduces traditional failure rates
and subsequent down time.
Northrop Grumman's KC-30 Tanker is fitted with a
centerline-mounted ARBS and hose and drogue unit, along with two
underwing hose and drogue refueling pods. This enables the KC-30
Tanker to refuel a full range of US and NATO military aircraft.
The KC-30's hose and drogue system is already flying on US Air
Force, German Air Force, and Canadian Air Force tankers.
The KC-30 Tanker aircraft is based on the EADS A330 Multi-role
Tanker Transport, which was selected to support the air forces of
Australia, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates. The
first Australian Air Force KC-30B is executing a rigorous flight
test program with all refueling systems installed on the