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Mon, Oct 16, 2023

Airbus Successfully Tests Automated Air-to-Air Refueling System

I, Robot Pump Jockey

Airbus and the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) jointly undertook and successfully completed an automatic air-to-air refueling (A3R) flight-test campaign utilizing the Consortium’s A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) and Boeing’s F-15 fighter. The tests were conducted ahead of the former aircraft’s planned 2024 certification.

Over three weeks in August, an A330 MRTT made upwards of five-hundred automated wet and dry contacts with the RSAF’s full fleet of receiver aircraft, including the F-15SG, a variant of Boeing’s F-15E Strike Eagle air-to-ground fighter jet.

Airbus Defense and Space head of military air systems Jean-Brice Dumont stated: “The A330 MRTT has made the future of air-to-air refueling a reality as a result of the joint efforts of Airbus and the Republic of Air Force. This new milestone will enable the RSAF to become the world’s first Air Force to have a boom automatic refueling capability with the entirety of its receivers—a capability expandable to refueling receivers from other nations.”

The described flight-tests—which were conducted in Singapore under the supervision of Spain’s National Institute for Aerospace Technology (INTA), the latter nation’s aircraft certifying authority—covered the complete operational AAR envelope in differing weather conditions.

Additional test-flights of the RSAF’s A330 MRTT were carried out under night conditions. These included F-15 and F-16 receiver aircraft and were undertaken for purpose of collecting data germane to the completion of the platform’s development and vetting the night capabilities of the automated system.

In July 2022, the A330 MRTT became the world’s first tanker certified for automatic air-to-air refueling operations in daylight conditions with F-16s and A330 MRTTs as receivers.

The automatic refueling system reduces air-refueling operator workload, improves safety and optimizes the air-to-air refueling transfer rate in operational conditions to maximize air superiority.

Airbus’s A330 MRTT is certified for aerial refueling with both boom and hose-and-drogue systems for F-15, F-16, F-35, A330 MRTT, AWACS, Eurofighter, and numerous additional aircraft.



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