Minister for Defence and Minister for Defence Materiel – Joint media release – Capability update – air projects

Minister for Defence Stephen Smith and Minister for Defence Materiel Mike Kelly today provided an update on two air capability projects.

Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft achieves Initial Operational Capability

Minister Smith and Minister Kelly announced that the KC-30A Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft had reached Initial Operational Capability (IOC).

Australia is the lead customer of the MRTT aircraft, which integrates advanced airborne refuelling systems into a commercial Airbus A330 to create the world’s most advanced tanker aircraft. 

The MRTT is designed to perform airborne refuelling for air combat aircraft to enhance endurance and range. The MRTT will also provide a further lift capacity for 270 passengers and has an under-floor freight capacity of 36,000 kg (26 airline containers). The RAAF will receive 5 MRRT’s.

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) accepted the fifth and final MRTT from Airbus Military on 30 November last year.

The aircraft was delivered to RAAF Base Amberley in early December 2012.  As well, Air Force completed the first Australian pilot and Air Refuelling Operator courses at the MRTT training centre (RAAF Base Amberley) in December 2012.

Earlier this year, two MRTT aircraft accompanied seven F/A-18 A/B ‘Classic’ Hornets to Exercise COPE NORTH in Guam. The exercise successfully demonstrated the aircraft’s refuelling capability and capacity.

Refuelling clearance tests for the F/A-18F Super Hornets are now underway and are on track to be completed this year.

Further modification and testing is underway to enable the MRTT to achieve Final Operational Capability, involving the ability to refuel the E-7A Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft, C-17A Globemaster, and other MRTTs. 

In the future, the MRTT will also be able to refuel the P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft and F-35A Joint Strike Fighter when these aircraft enter Air Force service.

Vigilare achieves Final Operational Capability

Minister Smith and Minister Kelly announced that the Vigilare Command and Control System has achieved Final Operational Capability (FOC).

‘Vigilare’ is an air defence command and control system giving the Defence Force improved surveillance and communications capabilities.

The system receives surveillance data from many different sources, including the over-the-horizon radar system, civil and military air traffic agencies, and military surveillance radars.  Vigilare correlates this information to produce a comprehensive picture of air activity over Australia and throughout our near region.  It then enables its operators to pass surveillance information and instructions to aircraft operating throughout Australia.

The Vigilare Command and Control System will significantly enhance the effectiveness of Australia’s existing air surveillance and battle management capabilities, and help Australia maintain an advanced technical capability.

The Vigilare Command and Control System has now been installed at RAAF Base Williamtown and at RAAF Base Tindal.

The prime contractor for Vigilare is Boeing Defence Australia.

Vigilare was added to the Project of Concern list in 2008 due to schedule delays.  Boeing and Defence worked closely together to address the issues and get the project back on track.  In June 2011 the Government announced that Vigilare had been taken off the list.

Media contacts:

Minister Smith’s Office: Sacha Fenton (02) 6277 7800 or 0467 784 528

Dr Kelly’s Office: Robbie Rynehart (02) 6277 7730 or 0459 810 654

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