Minister for Defence Stephen Smith and Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare today provided an update on three air capability projects.
--Acceptance of Fifth and Final KC-30A MRTT Aircraft
Minister Smith and Minister Clare announced Defence’s acceptance of the fifth and final KC-30A Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft. The aircraft was delivered to Defence at the Airbus Military MRTT facility at Madrid, Spain.
This aircraft, to be designated A39-005, is the fourth aircraft to be converted in Australia from a commercial A330 airliner to a state-of-the art military tanker by Qantas Defence Services (QDS) at Brisbane Airport. One aircraft was modified in Spain, and remains in Spain for testing of the military avionics and boom refuelling systems.
The final aircraft completed Australian conversion in July 2012 before being flown to Europe by Airbus Military to undergo painting and final preparation for delivery.
The aircraft will now be flown back by an all Australian crew to its home base at No. 33 Squadron at RAAF Base Amberley.
The excellent performance of the aircraft and crews at the recent Pitch Black exercises in Darwin has shown the good progress that has been made on the KC-30As.
Australia is the lead customer of the MRTT aircraft which integrates a new Advanced Refuelling Boom System and pod based hose and drogue refuelling system into a commercial Airbus A330 to create the world’s most advanced tanker aircraft.
-- King Air Simulator
Minister Smith and Minister Clare also announced that CAE Australia (CAE) will provide Hawker Beechcraft King Air 350 simulator training services in Sale, Victoria.
CAE will establish a full-flight simulator of the King Air 350 operated by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).
The King Air 350 is a modern glass cockpit, twin-engine turboprop with two front seat crew capable of carrying up to four backseat crew or nine passengers.
The King Air is used to train students for low-level tactical fast-jet operations and maritime surveillance operations. Low-level tactical and maritime training flights are typically conducted 250 to 1000 feet above ground level.
The contract, worth $14.2 million, will provide over 1500 simulator hours each year through to the planned withdrawal of the King Air 350 in mid-2018.
CAE will also build the facility to house the simulator and provide training which is currently undertaken in the United States. This training has been done in CAE’s Dallas Simuflite Training Centre because of a lack of such a facility in Australia.
Simulation is an increasingly important method of training for Defence personnel as combat systems become more complex.
Using simulator services in Australia will mean a greater training capability for the RAAF and savings of both time and money.
The simulator will be used by the RAAF’s No. 32 Squadron and the School of Aviation Warfare to train pilots, air combat officers and Royal Australian Navy observers at RAAF Base East Sale.
The procurement of King Air Simulator Services is an important capability addition in the training of Australian Defence personnel.
The simulator and facility will be owned and operated by CAE Australia.
-- New training squadron to operate the Navy’s MH-60R ‘Romeo’ helicopters
Minister Smith and Minister Clare today also announced that the name of the new training squadron to operate the Navy’s MH-60R ‘Romeo’ helicopters would be 725 Squadron.
725 Squadron will form as the operational training squadron, while 816 Squadron, which currently operates the S-70-B2 Seahawk, will transition to the MH-60R as the operational support squadron.
In June 2011, Government announced that 24 MH-60R “Romeo” naval combat helicopters and supporting systems would be acquired under Project AIR 9000 Phase 8.
Australia is the first foreign customer for the MH-60R helicopter which will offer the latest in anti-submarine and surface sensors and weapons, including the Mk 54 torpedo and the Hellfire air-to-surface missiles.
The designation 725 Squadron has been chosen as it has long lineage of helicopter and anti-submarine operations and training. Notable exploits of the Squadron include the rescue of sailors following the collision of the aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne with HMAS Voyager on the night of 10 February 1964, escort duties in the 1960s for HMAS Sydney in her resupply missions to Vietnam and flood relief operations in Nowra in July 1974 where the Fleet Air Arm rescued some 352 people.
The Squadron was last decommissioned on 27 December 1975.