12/10/2007 - MELBOURNE, FL -- The Northrop Grumman Corporation
KC-30 Tanker Aerial Refueling Boom System (ARBS) performed its
first in-flight contacts with a receiver aircraft, marking the
successful completion of a key program milestone and underscoring
the company's low-risk approach for quickly replacing the U.S.
Air Force's KC-135 tanker fleet.
The initial refueling contacts used the advanced ARBS installed
on an A310 testbed aircraft, which operated with an F-16 receiver
aircraft flying at 27,000 feet. The contacts reflected a typical
refueling mission, with the ARBS' 40-ft.-long boom deployed
to its operational length and inserted into the F-16 receiver
aircraft's refueling receptacle.
Multiple boom hook-ups were conducted with the F-16. The ARBS
was controlled by Don Cash, a 21-year U.S. Air Force veteran
and refueling boom operator, using the A310's Remote Aerial
Refueling Operator (RARO) console. The RARO station employs
a three-dimensional vision surveillance system, providing a
high-fidelity visual representation of the boom's position during
the entire air-to-air refueling process. Today's flight test
was the 60th for the boom, totaling more than 160 flight hours.
"Successful completion of this milestone reflects the
KC-30 industrial team's focus on providing a next-generation,
low-risk solution for recapitalizing the Air Force's refueling
assets," said Paul Meyer, Northrop Grumman vice president
and general manager of the KC-30 program. "The pace of
our test and development program, including the completed assembly
and flight testing of the very first KC-30 Tanker aircraft,
is strong evidence that the KC-30 Tanker will meet or exceed
all U.S. Air Force requirements."
Northrop Grumman's KC-30 Tanker teammate EADS developed the
ARBS, the most capable in-flight refueling system available
today. It is already onboard the first of five KC-30B Multi-Role
Tanker/Transport aircraft EADS is supplying to the Royal Australian
Air Force and will be used on three similar A330 MRTT aircraft
ordered by the United Arab Emirates.
Fly-by-wire technology incorporated in the ARBS provides enhanced
controllability and includes an automatic load alleviation system,
which greatly aids the boom operator -- as well as the receiver
aircraft's pilot -- during refueling operations. With the capacity
to offload up to 1,200 gallons of fuel per minute, the ARBS
is easily adaptable to future mission requirements, including
the refueling of unmanned aerial vehicles.
"A new era in aerial refueling has begun with our team's
advanced ARBS' initial in-flight contacts," said John Young,
chief executive officer of EADS North America Tankers. "The
ARBS brings tanker technology into the 21st century with a highly
capable refueling system that will fulfill Air Force aerial
refueling requirements throughout the KC-30's operational life."
Following the ARBS' initial in-flight contacts, subsequent
tests will be performed with fuel transfers from the A310 testbed's
boom to a variety of receiver aircraft.
A powerful U.S. and allied industrial team led by Northrop
Grumman has been established to produce and supply KC-30 Tankers
for the U.S. Air Force. The aircraft is based on the A330 Multi-Role
Tanker Transport (MRTT), which was selected by the air forces
of Australia, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates.
The KC-30 Tanker aircraft will be assembled in Mobile, Ala.,
and the KC-30 team will employ 25,000 American workers at 230
U.S. companies. It will be built by a world-class industrial
team led by Northrop Grumman, and includes EADS North America,
General Electric Aviation and Sargent Fletcher.
About the KC-30: Northrop Grumman's KC-30 Tanker carries 45,000
more pounds of fuel than a KC-135 or any competitor, providing
a significant boost to the U.S. Air Force's global reach. The
KC-30 is also designed to refuel Navy and coalition aircraft,
and to serve as a multi-role transport aircraft to move passengers,
cargo and medical evacuation patients. The KC-30 incorporates
defense systems, precision fly-by-wire technology, and the ability
to integrate a militarized communications suite and a global
Source: Northrop Press Release