United States Air Force (USAF) B-1B Lancer bombers recently undertook refuelling practise with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). 

The missions which took place in Australia’s Northern Territory, included mid-air refuelling with RAAF KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transports (MRTT).

On completion of the air-to-air refuelling, both bombers landed at RAAF Base Darwin where they conducted a hot pit refuel supported by RAAF No. 13 Squadron aviation refuellers and USAF maintenance staff. 

This was the first use of in-ground refuelling pits for USAF aircraft, created under a US-funded extension of the bomber replenishment apron at RAAF Base Darwin. This infrastructure has been designed to be used by both USAF and RAAF refuelling equipment. 

This was the first time that USAF B-1Bs have been hot turn refuelled by RAAF using a JP157 hydrant cart, said Air Base Executive Officer and No. 13 Squadron Executive Officer, Squadron Leader Michael Moroney. “The safe and successful refuel highlights continued steps in our interoperability and provides validation for future USAF activities at RAAF Base Darwin,” he added.

The B-1B can carry a conventional payload of up to 34 tonnes of ordnance (guided and unguided) and is considered as the backbone of the USAF’s long-range bomber force.