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BUS TANKER flies a great leap forward

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  • BUS TANKER flies a great leap forward

    as the flying boom reached another milestone
    PICTURES: EADS Casa's refuelling boom makes first contact with F-16 fighter
    By Craig Hoyle

    EADS Casa’s development of a key technology for the Airbus A330-based KC-30 on offer to meet the US Air Force’s KC-X tanker requirement has passed another milestone, with the company’s air refuelling boom system (ARBS) having made its first dry contact with another aircraft.

    Pictured while connecting with a Portuguese air force Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter at an altitude of 27,000ft (8,230m) earlier this month, the success came during the 60th flight test of a company-owned A310 demonstrator carrying the 17m-long ARBS.

    “The boom performed as expected, and the contacts were smooth and precise”, says EADS Casa, which has suffered development delays with the proprietary boom design, with which it hopes to break Boeing’s international dominance of the air-to-air refuelling sector. The US manufacturer is offering its KC-767A design to meet the KC-X requirement – a decision on which is expected from early 2008 – and made its first dry boom contacts with a Boeing B-52 bomber last January.

    EADS Casa’s ARBS design is also a vital element of a programme to supply five A330-based multirole tanker/transports to the Royal Australian Air Force. The service is expected to receive its first KC-30B in late 2009, with flight testing already under way using the boom-equipped aircraft.
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