Airbus and the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) have announced the successful conclusion of their joint automatic air-to-air refuelling (A3R) flight test campaign, featuring the Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) and F-15 fighter.

The completion marks a significant step ahead of the anticipated certification in the first half of 2024.

During a three-week testing period in August, the RSAF’s A330 MRTT accomplished over 500 automated wet and dry contacts with the air force’s full range of receiver aircraft. This included the F-15SG aircraft, a tailored version of the US-manufactured F-15E Strike Eagle air-to-ground fighter jet.

Jean-Brice Dumont, Head of Military Air Systems at Airbus Defence and Space, remarked, “The A330 MRTT has made the future of air-to-air refuelling a reality as a result of the joint efforts of Airbus and the Republic of Singapore Air Force.

The flight assessments involving F-15SG took place in Singapore. They spanned the entire operational AAR spectrum in varied weather scenarios, supervised by INTA (National Institute for Aerospace Technology), the Spanish certifying body.

The testing phase wasn’t confined to daylight conditions. Additional test flights during the night involved not only F-15s but also the RSAF’s A330 MRTT and F-16s, aiding in data gathering to advance and actualise the automated system’s night capabilities.

Read more here.

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George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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Jim
Jim (@guest_759901)
7 months ago

I bet the USAF really wishes it went for the MT330 over the KC46, it’s quite astounding how Boeing could really f**k up something so simple.

It’s also quite telling how the US harps on about NATO compatibility and not replicating capabilities. A European developed capability built in America that meats all the requirements and wins the competition then gets canned for a dodgy US contractor who just so happened to start hiring Airforce brass that were in charge of the competition.

And no one went to jail

Andrew
Andrew (@guest_759904)
7 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Welcome to how big business works!

Oliver
Oliver (@guest_759910)
7 months ago
Reply to  Andrew

How many KC-46 is US buying?

Jim
Jim (@guest_759913)
7 months ago
Reply to  Oliver

179 in total are planned, it may be more if the USAF drops the KC-Y tanker program or they may end up buying MRTT 330 as well, the last of their KC10 just left service and the KC135 tanker fleet is currently being held together with spit and bubble gum. I think they needed our AWACS planes for spare parts from them. Boeing really left the USAF in a bad place and it’s suffering a loss on the project itself. Its sad that an engineer lead company like Boeing with so many accomplishments could be screwed up by a handful… Read more »

DanielMorgan
DanielMorgan (@guest_759914)
7 months ago
Reply to  Oliver

128
64 have been delivered.
10 additional for Japan and Israel.
After all of the problems, the USAF is well satisfied with the KC-46 and its revolutionary boom system.
Next USAF tanker will be clean sheet.

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker (@guest_759974)
7 months ago
Reply to  DanielMorgan

Not really revolutionary boom system. An evolutionary boom is a better description.
Until it works as well as the old boom it’s not really that useful.

Duker
Duker (@guest_760076)
7 months ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

Yes. The boom was fly by wire for the KC-10 all those decades back. Its a new design but old concepts the separate refuelling baskets are revolutionary as they can now be ‘steered’ with open and shut flaps Boeing doesnt make any part of the booms or baskets , it was the UK sub contractor Cobham who were the experts in this field since it began. The visual system too was outsourced to a business specialising in the field , but Boeings mistake was to specify an older out of date hardware/software and when that had problems had to move… Read more »

Math
Math (@guest_759981)
7 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Overall, the real concern is how weak engineering is getting in USA. They have not so many talented home made engineers now. Especially outside of finance or software. The pay structure and over valuation of incomes in what is important to define someone leads to this kind of aberration: USA that was at the forefront of mecanical engineering and chemistry is a shadow of the legend it once has been. Even developpers of their plateform are in Europe now. I am not surprised. Complacency in education for way too long, benefit of a big market with easy money has made… Read more »

Jim
Jim (@guest_760099)
7 months ago
Reply to  Math

A large part of American post ww2 success was based on mass migration of British and European engineers plus the massive stimulus from WW2 vets going to college with government subsidy. That’s been lost and the benefits of Americas economic success are not reaching their own people on the ground. Their social problems are astounding. That being said if you look at what space X is doing no one on the planet can come close to that. No other county in the world is going to let an African guy build rockets the size of Saturn 5 and practice blowing… Read more »

Math
Math (@guest_760106)
7 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Agreed, Space X and Tesla are real success, you are right. I am excessive as always. Though I can’t help but feal… something is broken. Young engineers are not driven by senior one. The automatic refueling is in the making in Boeing for 10 years now. What’s wrong… Take shipbuilding: no successfull hull since 1980´s. They have to get designs from Europe (France and Italy). Hypersonic: nothing to brag about. Now, with Vmax, France is at same stage or ahead with a budget a fraction of US’s. Take tanks: new tank is a revamp of Abraham from 1980´s as well.… Read more »

Duker
Duker (@guest_760287)
7 months ago
Reply to  Math

The US Coast Guard large ‘cutter ‘is a light frigate hull.
Successful is a relative term. The hulls/superstructure for the LCS and the Zumwalt class ( really a cruiser size) were fine , its other components which let them down. Part of that was concurrency the discredited development process

Andrew D
Andrew D (@guest_759932)
7 months ago

Seem to have good kit F15s ,F16s AAR capability .Sometimes makes me wonder how these nations can afford this top line platforms. Saying that the Singapore airfroce back in the day had probably the best version of Hawker Hunter they really did give it extra teeth .Anyone into jets check it out guys 😉

PaulW
PaulW (@guest_759942)
7 months ago

When they say ‘automatic’, do they mean pilot hands-off on the aircraft being refuelled? I still can’t do AAR on DCS World flight sim. Haha. Auto mode would be epic.

Duker
Duker (@guest_760054)
7 months ago
Reply to  PaulW

The pilot still flies naturally, its the boom end thats automated.

Its best described as semi automated as the boom extends on its own/retracts and the pilot flies *into the nozzle* There is also the automated control to keep the boom in position against the airflow/turbulence moving them around

Phil Chadwick
Phil Chadwick (@guest_759997)
7 months ago

I can only wonder what the remaining Victor Tanker and Vulcan crews of Operation Corporate think of this fantastic new technology? The sheer amount of connections they had to make, not just for the Vulcans on the Black Buck missions, but also for the reconnaissance of the South Georgia area, refuelling Nimrods, Hercules, attrition replacement GR3’s that flew all the way from Ascension to Hermes, topping up every aircraft going to and from the UK and Ascension. Their workload was incredible.

Last edited 7 months ago by Phil Chadwick
Duker
Duker (@guest_760055)
7 months ago
Reply to  Phil Chadwick

Thats wasnt boom refuelling , but trailing basket – which was much easier from the operator point of view. All that work was done by the receiver pilot and who had a flexible connection, the boom isnt flexible so needs constant ‘flying’ , hence the aerodynamic surfaces

Andrew D
Andrew D (@guest_760066)
7 months ago
Reply to  Phil Chadwick

That took took some doing and show the professional flying skills of the RN and RAF pilots 🇬🇧