Australian magazine profile on KC-30A delays

Update, Feb. 15: at the request of the magazine, we have delinked the article.

Here is a synopsis; the magazine reports:

  • The delay is now 27 months, with deliveries hoped for in March;
  • Writing comprehensive technical manuals for the aircraft and the new boom is taking longer than thought, contributing to but not entirely responsible for the delay;
  • The widely-reported boom separation occurred when “the boom’s probe snapped off near the F-16’s receptacle, causing the boom to spring up and strike the underside of the tanker, snapping off one of the two guiding fins and causing the boom to oscillate wildly until it detached from its supporting mast,” falling into the ocean;
  • As a result, the Spanish authorities (who have jurisdiction over Airbus Military, which is headquartered in Spain) withdrew the flight permits for the RAAF KC-30As “until such time as the aircraft is declared safe to fly again….”;
  • Because of the delays, Airbus “has been liable for liquidated damages on the contract…they are believed to include the cost of using air-to-air refueling tankers from Omega Air and the USAF” for the RAAF’s F/A-18s.

Original Post:

Australian Aviation has a five page profile on the delays to the RAAF KC-30A, including last December’s boom failure.

The PDF may be downloaded here: RAAF KC-30A Delays

7 Comments on “Australian magazine profile on KC-30A delays

  1. Have had a lot of experience with defense contracts in Australia.
    They can be amazing! I even have some sympathy for Boeing and their infamous Wedgetail.
    Canberra is perfectly capable of needing a couple of dozen re-writes on how to find the local McDonalds.
    One of my last memorable experiences of Australian defence procurement was being abused by the manager of the Williamtown Dockyard who had half a dozen fuel lighters built and was demanding delivery of the propulsion packages.
    The minor problem was that we were still waiting for the contract.
    More than a passing chance that the tanker deliveries are an RAAF self inflicted wound.
    I do not see documentation as a likely problem with USAF if they buy KC30 as I understand they like pretty pictures rather than words to “show how its done”

    • Hmpf,
      is that where the “Powerpoint Rangers” and “Specialist,PPT” are
      coined from ?

    • At this point in the KC-X timeline, I would expect something like this from both Booeing and EADS. To bad they did not show the slide with the pricing information on it.

      But, back to the RAAF tanker. Airbus is still an amature in the military contracting business. Boeing’s problem with the Wedgetail was not writing the tech manuals for the RAAF, it was the NG built radar. The USAF will want the same level of detail in the tech manuals the KC-X will need to become an operational asset.

      Writing the manuals os not difficult if you keep up with the engineering changes to your proposal, which apparently Airbus did not do. The manuals are just as important to the customers as the airplane itself. They are vital for training, both aircrews and maintaners.

      • From my viewpoint it is preferable to lag with docs than with primary tech.

        Paperwork is never an “if /if ever” but only a “when” issue.

        Topboom, my guess is that detailed information on the German DFS work that resulted in a complete probe and drogue fueling system ( derived from a variable towing system and developed from 19127 to 1943) made it to the US via opperation paperclip.

  2. Actually the 1927 “Question Mark” refueling was a US idea. It was simply a hose dangled from the ‘tanker’ to the receiver, there was no probe or drogue. Later systems, up to and including WWII were mostly developed from the British.

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