March 3 (UPI) -- Airbus and the Australian air force will cooperate to develop more advanced capabilities for the KC-30A tanker aircraft.
Under the agreement, the two entities seek to develop an automatic air-to-air refueling concept known as A3R. Airbus says the pact aims to allow the tanker's boom to locate receptacles more easily, and reduce the workload for aircrews.
"The KC-30A offers tremendous combat potential at the heart of the integrated Air Force of the Future, including using the platform as a Communication Node, to maximize air power delivery," Airbus' Fernando Alonso said in a press release.
According to Airbus, the research will strengthen its partnership with the Australian air force.
"We are delighted to contribute to the research and development of A3R with Airbus to automate the process for boom refueling without the need for control by our on-board air refueling operator," Air Marshall Leo Davies added.
The KC-30A tanker is a modified version of the Airbus A330 airliner. In addition to providing air-to-air refueling capabilities, the aircraft is also used to support military airlift operations.
The tanker is capable of carrying over 100 tons of fuel, typically used to replenish in-flight fighters such as F/A-18 Hornets and other airlifters such as the C-17 Globemaster.
Australia has five KC-30As in its fleet, and is set to receive two additional platforms.