Airbus completed a flight test campaign involving the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) to certify additional capabilities of its automatic air-to-air refueling (A3R) technology.
The campaign involved the Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) and the F-15SG fighter jet, a local variant of the McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) F-15E Strike Eagle.
Several flight tests were conducted in different weather conditions and during nighttime. The European plane manufacturer hopes for the certification of the technology with the F-15 as a receiver and in night conditions in the first half of 2024.
The A3R capability aims to reduce the role of the air refueling operator (ARO) to monitoring the operation rather than carrying it out, reducing crew fatigue and the potential for human error. The certification of the technology is supervised and granted by the Spanish National Institute for Aerospace Technology (INTA).
“This new milestone will enable the RSAF to become the first Air Force in the world to have a boom automatic refuelling capability with all of its receivers, a capability that can be extended to refuelling receivers from other nations,” said Jean-Brice Dumont, head of Military Air Systems at Airbus Defence and Space, in a press release.
At the Farnborough Airshow in July 2022, Airbus announced that the A330 MRTT became the first tanker to be certified for automatic aerial refueling in daylight with F-16s and A330 MRTTs.
In March 2023, Airbus completed the first test flight of its Auto’Mate technology demonstrator, showcasing in-flight autonomous guidance and control of a drone using an A310 MRTT tanker.