SOURCE: EADS North America

January 28, 2008 11:35 ET

Refueling System for the Northrop Grumman KC-30 Tanker Completes Major Flight Test Milestones

Tests Validate System Maturity and Compatibility for USAF's Next-Generation Mission Needs

ARLINGTON, VA--(Marketwire - January 28, 2008) - The state-of-the-art refueling system for Northrop Grumman's KC-30 Tanker has completed key flight test milestones, underscoring its maturity and low risk development for the U.S. Air Force's next-generation aerial refueling aircraft requirement.

During a fast-paced flight test program, the KC-30 Tanker's all-digital FRL 905E-series refueling pods deployed their hose and drogues to multiple lengths, showing "rock solid" stability at a full range of speeds and altitudes.

In parallel, the KC-30 Tanker's fly-by-wire Aerial Refueling Boom System (ARBS) demonstrated its ability to service large transports and multi-mission platforms, validating the ARBS' compatibility with the wide range of refueling-capable aircraft in the U.S. Air Force inventory.

"Successful completion of these critical fuel system test points -- on schedule -- confirms the KC-30 Tanker's readiness to fulfill all of the U.S. Air Force's requirements for its next-generation tanker. Completion of these key program milestones also reflects our commitment to deliver the KC-30 Tanker to our teammate Northrop Grumman," said John Young, Chief Executive Officer of EADS North America Tankers, LLC.

The hose and drogue validation utilized the Royal Australian Air Force's no. 1 A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT), which is based on the same airframe as the KC-30 Tanker, and is equipped with the same multi-point refueling system proposed for the U.S. Air Force.

An F/A-18 combat aircraft made operational-type approaches behind the extended hoses and drogues as they trailed from the pods under the A330 MRTT's left and right wings -- with the fighter moving into very close proximity at the pre-contact position.

The hoses and drogues were extended at lengths of 75 ft., 82 ft. and 90 ft. during multiple deployments at altitudes from 10,000 ft. to 35,000 ft., and at airspeeds ranging from 180 kts. to 300 kts. These deployments were made as the A330 MRTT flew in both level flight and while banking, reflecting typical operational profiles during refueling missions. In all scenarios, the Cobham/Sargent Fletcher-built FRL 905E-series hose and drogue system exhibited total and complete stability, which is critical for successful refueling of probe-equipped receiver aircraft.

During the same flight, the Royal Australian Air Force's A330 MRTT joined up in flight with the A310 ARBS equipped Demonstrator aircraft fitted with EADS' ARBS. The ARBS was extended to various points throughout the refueling envelope as the A330 MRTT moved to within six inches of the all-electric fly-by-wire boom. These close proximity tests confirmed the boom system's compatibility with large receiver aircraft, and followed the ARBS' recent in-flight contacts with an F-16 combat aircraft.

About EADS North America (

EADS North America is the North American operations of EADS, the second largest aerospace and defense company in the world. As a leader in all sectors of defense and homeland security, EADS North America and its parent company, EADS, contribute over $10 billion to the U.S. economy annually and support more than 190,000 American jobs through its network of suppliers and services. Operating in 31 cities and 17 states, EADS North America offers a broad array of advanced solutions to its customers in the commercial, homeland security, aerospace and defense markets.

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