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Tue, May 08, 2007

EADS Says RAAF KC-30B Program Now In Next Test Phase

One Step Closer To Flight Testing

EADS tells ANN it has successfully completed ground vibration testing of the Royal Australian Air Force’s first KC-30B Multi-role Tanker Transport (MRTT), advancing the program closer to the flight test phase. 

Designed to validate the KC-30B MRTT's airframe structural response, these ground-based tests were conducted with the centerline fly-by-wire Aerial Refueling Boom System (ARBS) and two underwing hose-and-drogue pods installed. Since the aircraft's underwing pods can be installed or removed depending on operational requirements, ground vibration testing was also performed without the pods.

Completion of the EADS ground-based evaluations -– which were monitored by international airworthiness authorities -– clears the way for the start of flight tests with the no. 1 KC-30B MRTT, including in-flight refueling contacts with a variety of receiver aircraft.

"The successful completion of ground vibration testing marks another significant milestone in the KC-30 MRTT program, taking this superb aircraft one step closer to its service entry with the Royal Australian Air Force," said John H. Young, Jr., CEO of EADS North America Tankers, a business unit of EADS North America. "The advances of this program directly benefit the Northrop Grumman KC-30 Tanker being offered in the US Air Force KC-135 replacement competition."

Five KC-30B MRTTs have been ordered by the Royal Australian Air Force, and will be flown by the service's 33 Squadron. In addition to Australia, the KC-30/A330 MRTT has been chosen for the United Kingdom's Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA) requirement, and by the United Arab Emirates for the aerial refueling needs of the country's air force and air defense.

Australia and the United Arab Emirates have selected an aerial refueling configuration similar to that proposed by Northrop Grumman for the US Air Force KC-30 Tanker, including a centerline boom and removable underwing pods. EADS North America is a principal contractor to Northrop Grumman on the KC-30 Tanker industrial team.

At the heart of the KC-30's refueling system is EADS' all-electric, fly-by-wire centerline boom, which provides highly accurate, reliable in-flight refueling. Using a 3D-vision surveillance system, the boom operator remotely controls ARBS operations from the cockpit during air-to-air refueling. With a maximum nominal fuel flow rate of 1,200 US gallons per minute, the boom features an automatic load alleviation system that EADS says provides a larger refueling envelope and enhanced controllability.

Complementing the KC-30 MRTT's advanced refueling boom are two Cobham 905 underwing pods, which carry 96.6-ft. long hoses, and are designed to offload fuel at a rate of up to 420 gallons per minute.

The Royal Australian Air Force aircraft will also carry an electronic warfare suite that protects against surface-to-air missile threats, along with a Link 16 network system that provides real-time airborne connectivity.

The KC-30/A330 MRTT is based on the A330 twin-engine commercial airliner.

FMI: www.eadsnorthamerica.com

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