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NEWS | March 23, 2022

U. S. Navy and Royal Australian Air Force Conduct First Cooperative Air-to-Air Refueling

By Lt. Austin Chien Commander Task Force 72 Public Affairs

ROYAL AUSTRALIAN AIR FORCE BASE EDINBURGH, Australia -- A U.S. Navy P-8A from Patrol Squadron 47 (VP-47) and one KC-30A from Royal Australian Air Force No. 33 Squadron (RAAF 33) conducted the first ever operational Air-To-Air Refueling (AAR) between a U.S. Navy P-8A and a RAAF KC-30A on March 20.

Earlier in the month, the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance aircraft (MPRA) with VP-47, traveled to Edinburgh to support the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) during their Fleet Certification Period. This consisted of multiple exercises between RAN and U.S. Navy (USN) units specifically in the realm of anti-submarine warfare (ASW).

“AAR provides a means of overcoming challenges to joint forces operating in the Indo-Pacific region, particularly by allowing aircraft to operate at much longer ranges,” said Group Captain Taylor, Commanding Officer of RAAF No. 86 Wing. “Refueling a surveillance aircraft like the P-8A also provides it with persistence in the joint space, and adds flexibility to how it might support the fleet.”

The AAR was coordinated to facilitate interoperability between the RAAF and USN forces. AARs enable aircraft to maintain a longer endurance time in the air without having to land to obtain fuel. They require the tanking plane (KC-30A) and the customer plane (P-8A) to fly in close formation at 500 mph while aligning the two planes so that the 55-foot-long refueling boom can be connected to commence refueling.

“We were excited to participate in this historic refueling event between the RAAF and USN," said Capt. Clifford W. Toraason, Commodore of Commander Task Force Seven Two (CTF-72) . "Every chance to continue to improve our interoperability with such a close and valued ally as Australia is a valuable opportunity.”

The “Golden Swordsmen” of VP-47 are part of CTF-72, are stationed in Whidbey Island, Washington, and are currently deployed to Misawa Air Base in Aomori, Japan. Throughout the deployment, they will be conducting maritime patrol and reconnaissance and theater outreach operations within the 7th Fleet area of operations.

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