EADS’ advanced aerial refueling boom system performs nighttime contacts with NATO F-16

A Portuguese F-16 completes one of 17 nighttime contacts with the EADS Advanced Refueling Boom System, as seen by the boom’s digital infrared system. (Foto: EADS)

July 08, 2009, Arlington, Virginia -- The EADS advanced aerial refueling boom system (ARBS) – featured on Northrop Grumman’s KC-45 offering for the U.S. Air Force – has demonstrated its superior nighttime operational capabilities during a multi-contact mission with an F-16 fighter aircraft.

This validation confirmed the performance of the boom’s state-of-the-art enhanced vision system – which features laser infrared lighting and high-definition digital stereoscopic viewing – and was carried out as part of the final qualification phase for the EADS A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT), on which the Northrop Grumman KC-45 is based.

The night mission was completed with the boom system installed on EADS’ A310 testbed aircraft, and involved a Portuguese Air Force F-16AM as the receiver. After approach maneuvers for calibration of illumination, the boom made 17 contacts with the F-16 fighter.

“Nighttime missions are a vital part of aerial refueling operations for the U.S. Air Force, and the ARBS has once again shown its maturity with this latest validation of the enhanced vision system in realistic conditions,” said Ralph D. Crosby, Jr., EADS North America’s Chairman and CEO.

To date, the EADS boom system has performed more than 400 contacts with receiver aircraft that range from the F-16 to the E-3F AWACS and Australian KC-30A MRTT. Follow on activities will include additional boom and hose-and-drogue contacts with a variety of small and large receiver aircraft from the French, Portuguese, and Spanish air forces.

Continued ARBS flight testing – along with final validations of the optimized Cobham 905E hose and drogue refueling pods – will lead to military certification of the A330 MRTT platform. In June, an A330 MRTT built for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) demonstrated successful hose-and-drogue contacts with an F/A-18 receiver aircraft.

The A330 MRTT has been selected by the air forces of Australia, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Deliveries of the A330 MRTT will begin next year, with Australia’s Air Force becoming the first military service to receive the aircraft.

EADS North America

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