Airbus and the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) worked together to successfully complete the automatic air-to-air refuelling (A3R) flight test campaign with the Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) and F-15 fighter, ahead of its certification in the first half of 2024.
Over the course of three weeks in August, a RSAF A330 MRTT made more than 500 automated wet and dry contacts with the air force’s full fleet of receiver aircraft, including the F-15SG aircraft, a customised variant of the US-built F-15E Strike Eagle air-to-ground fighter jet.
“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 Air Force,” said Jean-Brice Dumont, Head of Military Air Systems at Airbus Defence and Space. “This new milestone will enable the RSAF to become the first Air Force in the world to have a boom automatic refuelling capability with all of its receivers, a capability that can be extended to refuelling receivers from other nations”.
The flight tests with F-15SG were conducted in Singapore, covering the whole operational AAR envelope in different weather conditions under the supervision of the Spanish certifying authority, called INTA (National Institute for Aerospace Technology).
Automatic air-to-air at night with F-15s, F-16s and MRTT
During the test campaign, further flights were carried out in night conditions, not only with F-15s but also with the RSAF’s A330 MRTT as receivers and F-16s for data collection, to complete the development and enable night capabilities with the automated system.
In July 2022, the A330 MRTT became the world’s first tanker certified for automatic air-to-air refuelling operations in daylight conditions with F-16s and A330 MRTTs as receivers.
The automatic refuelling system reduces air-refuelling operator workload, improves safety and optimises the air-to-air refuelling transfer rate in operational conditions to maximise air superiority.
Combat proven since 2014, the Airbus A330 MRTT is certified for aerial refuelling with both boom and hose-and-drogue systems for F-15, F-16, F-35, A330 MRTT, AWACS, Eurofighter and many more aircraft.