INCREDIBLE cockpit video has emerged showing an airborne squad of Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) fighter jets refuelling off the back of an aircraft mid-fight.
The spectacular scenes of the squad of RAAF fighter jets showing off their capabilities while refuelling from a tanker aircraft has also caught the attention of the world’s media.
The tanker is a modified Airbus A330 airliner refitted for military purposes.
“Hop in the back seat of an F/A-18B as a flight of Hornets pull in behind one of our KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport aircraft for a top up,” posted the RAAF earlier this week.
The RAAF performed their first ever “automatic contact” between a tanker and a “receiver” in March 2017, The Australian reported, “when its A310 MRTT testbed aircraft made a series of six couplings with an F-16 fighter from the Portuguese air force, using the MRTT’s fly-by-wire aerial refuelling boom system”.
A series of 3D cameras work alongside image-processing software to determine the precise point of contact. The RAAF planned to roll out air-to-air refuelling by 2019.
Automatic contact between a tanker and a receiver is “designed to reduce crew workload by permitting consistent and accurate contacts during day or night and in all weather,” according to the air force.
“Technology is moving very quickly and this is not a closed concept. It is important that, as further needs arise and as technology gives us the opportunity to enhance the capability of the MRTT, we will do so,” Airbus boss Fernando Alonso said.
The tanker is part of the same class of Australian refuelling plane stationed in Iraq filling up British plane tanks in the fight against Islamic State, according to The Advertiser.
“The Advertiser spent a day on a refuelling flight, watching the Aussies supply the United Kingdom’s Tornados and Typhoons,” journalist Tory Shepherd wrote.
“The fuel line snakes out of the KC-30s wing, undulating only slightly. The British jets swoop in like something out of Top Gun, with their probes erect.
“Once the probes slip into the pipe’s opening, thousands of litres of fuel pump through to the fighter jets. The pilots wave then take off on their mission before returning an hour or so later for another fill up.”