RAAF refuels for first time with South Korea – Australian Aviation

A RAAF KC-30A refueling a Republic of Korea Air Force KF-16U Fighting Falcon aircraft. (Defense)

The RAAF did an airborne refueling of their South Korean and US allies during Exercise Vigilant Storm.

This follows Australia and South Korea’s agreement to improve interoperability between their air forces, both of which signed an in-flight refueling agreement earlier this year.

Takes place from October 28th through November 5, the United States and South Korea conducted Exercise Vigilant Storm, during which some 240 aircraft conducted 1600 sorties and included both fifth- and fourth-generation aircraft for the first time.

The RAAF used a KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT), a heavily modified Airbus A330, and airmen from No. 33 Squadron to conduct the refueling, departing from Gimhae Air Base.

During the exercise, the crew refueled the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) KF-16U fighter jets and the US Marine Corps and US Pacific Air Forces F-35B Lighting IIs and F-16CJs, respectively.

Squadron 33 worked closely with ROKAF’s 261, according to Squadron Leader Anna Lovatt, who was in charge of the RAAF’s operations during the exerciseSt Squadron.

“The Gimhae deployment was an opportunity to work with the ROKAF, receive instructions from them, share experiences and build friendships,” said Squadron Leader Lovatt.

“There were opportunities to fly ROKAF to observe our operations and there were many similarities in the way we work.

“We were able to identify differences and engage in discussions to understand how each air force operates, for both aircrew and maintenance personnel.”

“The timing of Exercise Vigilant Storm could not have been better to further build on the relationships we developed in Exercise Pitch Black,” said Squadron Leader Lovatt.

The RAAF already had experience in air refueling of their allies, having previously used the KC-30A MRTT to refuel Japanese Mitsubishi F-2 aircraft and again to refuel US F-35B jets.

The ROKAF has assisted the RAAF in the same way in the past on exercise Pitch Black 22 with the 261St Squadron that had deployed a similar KC-330 Cygnus MRTT tanker to RAAF Base Amberly earlier this year.

“The level of support we provided to the ROKAF on Exercise Pitch Black was reciprocated by our department on Exercise Vigilant Storm and we were looked after very well,” said SQNLDR Lovatt.

“From a commitment perspective, this was an incredibly valuable relationship-building activity that allowed us to operate the KC-30A in the Korean Peninsula for the first time and continue to build relationships between No. 33 Squadron and No. 261 Squadron. ”

To ensure interoperability between the two air forces, South Korea and Australia signed an in-flight refueling executive agreement that coordinated refueling procedures.

The agreement was signed in September by Australia’s Air Commander Vice Marshal Darren Goldie and Korea’s Operation Commander Lt. Gen. Park Ha Sik.

“This further helps ensure that our two air forces can support each other in the skies, during exercises and training activities, and in future operations,” Goldie said.

“The transfer of fuel when required to maintain and extend our presence in the air is critical to our aircraft’s ability to successfully project airpower.”

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