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First RAAF KC-30A gets comms-cyber upgrade

Australia's fleet of Airbus A330 (KC-30A) MRTTs is receiving improved communications, tactical datalink, and encryption systems to bring the fleet to the latest “enhanced A330 MRTT” standard. (Commonwealth of Australia)

The first Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Airbus KC-30A Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) has received a communications and cyber upgrade.

Australia's fleet of seven KC-30As are having their secure high-frequency (HF) and very-high frequency (VHF) radios, encryption device, and tactical datalink systems enhanced under the so-called Crypto Remediation Project (CRP), according to the Australian Department of Defence (DoD).

The upgrade programme was first announced in October 2020. Airbus has previously said the CRP will elevate the Australian fleet to the “latest enhanced A330 MRTT” standard.

“These improvements aim to provide safer and more efficient communication and improve command, control, and situational awareness,” the DoD said in a statement. “Additionally, upgrades will increase KC-30A data throughput by 300 percent.”

The RAAF's KC-30As operate with No 33 Squadron in No 86 Wing at Amberley airbase, Queensland. The commander of the wing, Group Captain Brent Taylor, said that the CRP upgrade will improve “combat air mobility”. The upgrade is also intended to improve the ability of the RAAF KC-30As to operate with other RAAF and allied aircraft.

“The modernisation and system upgrades will ensure the RAAF KC-30A fleet can better integrate with other defence aircraft and those of our coalition partner forces,” Gp Capt Taylor said.

According to the DoD, the remainder of the RAAF's KC-30A fleet is scheduled to receive the upgrades by 2025. Enhancements to the first RAAF KC-30A were conducted in Spain and the aircraft returned to Australia in November, the DoD said. Modifications are being undertaken by Northrop Grumman Australia in Brisbane, the DoD added.

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