A330 MRTT Completes Automatic Refuelling Tests With F-15



A picture of a RSAF F-15SG utilizing the A3R system throughout the assessments with the RSAF A330MRTT (Picture credit score: Airbus)

The Republic of Singapore Air Power (RSAF) will develop into the primary Air Power on the planet to have a increase computerized refuelling functionality with all of its receivers.

In 2020, an Airbus MRTT take a look at plane carried out the world’s first ever absolutely computerized refuelling contacts throughout a flight take a look at marketing campaign over the Atlantic Ocean, that concerned an Airbus 310 MRTT take a look at plane outfitted with the Airbus A3R resolution (that equips the A330 MRTT) and a Portuguese Air Power F-16 jet appearing as a receiver. In July 2022, the A330 MRTT grew to become the world’s first tanker licensed for computerized air-to-air refuelling operations in daylight situations with F-16s and A330 MRTTs as receivers.

At the moment Airbus introduced the profitable completion of a testing marketing campaign with the Airbus A330 Multi Function Tanker Transport (MRTT) and F-15 fighter of the Republic of Singapore Air Power (RSAF), forward of its certification within the first half of 2024.

The testing marketing campaign came about over the course of three weeks in August and included greater than 500 automated moist and dry contacts with the air power’s full fleet of receiver plane, together with the F-15SG plane, variant primarily based on the usual F-15E, and embedding some enhancements: the APG-63(V)3 AESA radar, a Sniper XR EO/laser concentrating on pod and the AAS-43 Tiger Eyes IRST (infrared search-and-track system), the ALQ-135M system, an NVG-compatible cockpit, the JHMCS (Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System) and the power to drop a big selection of weapons, together with the AIM-9X Sidewinder, the AIM-120C AMRAAM, the AGM-154 JSOW (Joint Stand Off Weapon), the SDB (Small Diameter Bomb).

“The A330 MRTT has made the way forward for air-to-air refuelling a actuality on account of the joint efforts of Airbus and the Republic of Air Power,” stated Jean-Brice Dumont, Head of Navy Air Programs at Airbus Defence and Area in a public launch. “This new milestone will allow the RSAF to develop into the primary Air Power on the planet to have a increase computerized refuelling functionality with all of its receivers, a functionality that may be prolonged to refuelling receivers from different nations”.


The flight assessments with F-15SG had been carried out in Singapore, below the supervision of the Spanish certifying authority, referred to as INTA (Nationwide Institute for Aerospace Expertise), and lined the entire operational AAR envelope in numerous climate situations.  The take a look at marketing campaign additionally included night time A3R and concerned additionally RSAF F-16 receivers with the aim of enabling night time capabilities with the automated system.

As highlighted in a past story on this subject:

using an computerized refuelling system reduces the air-refuelling operator workload, particularly within the aerial refueling operations that contain using a flying boom, a inflexible, telescoping tube, maneuvered by a “increase operator” by the use of a management stick. Versus the “hose and drogue” system this AAR system has the benefit to eradicate the requirement for the receiver pilot to plug the IFR (In Flight Refueling) probe into the hose’s drogue: as soon as the plane has reached the refueling place the operator strikes the increase to insert the tube within the receptacle of the receiver plane. The flying increase is the usual AAR system utilized by the U.S. Air Power and required by plane which can be outfitted with a receptacle (because the F-16, F-15 or the F-35).

Not like the “hose and drogue” system with the flying increase, the trouble of the AAR operation is totally on the “boomer” (one other nickname for the operator who strikes the telescoping tube). Within the earlier era tankers, because the U.S. KC-135 and KC-10, the boomer needed to management the increase whereas mendacity susceptible inside a increase operator station situated within the rear of the plane, watching the receiver by a rear statement window. Extra trendy tankers, because the KC-767 and the problematic KC-46, use a distant increase operator’s station situated behind the cockpit from the place boomers transfer the increase utilizing a joystick and watching the video from a sequence of cameras mounted on the tanker’s fuselage: the superior digital camera system feeds a Distant Imaginative and prescient System (RVS) that gives high-definition stereoscopic imagery to the imaginative and prescient goggles hooked up to a sort-of flight helmet worn by the boomer throughout the air-to-air refueling.

The way in which the A3R system operates is especially fascinating, because it wants the ARO (Air Refueling Operator) to easily monitor the operation. In actual fact, as soon as the system is prompts, it’s the A3R system that flies the increase routinely and retains the alignment between the increase tip and the receiver receptacle with an accuracy of a few centimeters. The correct alignment and the receiver stability is checked in real-time to maintain a secure distance between the increase and the receiver and in addition to find out the optimum second to increase the telescopic beam to realize the reference to the receiver. After the “plug” the gas switch is initiated to refill the receiver plane and as soon as accomplished and the disconnection is commanded, the increase is cleared away from the receiver by retracting the telescopic beam and flying the increase away to maintain a secure separation distance.


David Cenciotti is a journalist primarily based in Rome, Italy. He’s the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of many world’s most well-known and browse army aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for main worldwide magazines, together with Air Forces Month-to-month, Fight Plane, and plenty of others, overlaying aviation, protection, warfare, trade, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown a number of fight planes with totally different air forces. He’s a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Power, a personal pilot and a graduate in Laptop Engineering. He has written 5 books and contributed to many extra ones.


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