Air-to-Air Refuelling Returns to CF

The Air Force will soon have strategic air-to-air refuelling (SAAR) capability.  One modified CC-150T (tanker) Polaris aircraft is now being tested and evaluated at 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alta. for this purpose.

This operational testing and evaluation (OT&E) phase introduces increasingly difficult air-to-air refuelling sequences and missions under operational conditions. Lessons learned will be implemented to ensure the capabilities of the CC-150T (tanker) are used to their maximum potential.

The Polaris (or Airbus A-310) is capable of off-loading 80,000 pounds of fuel to receiving aircraft over a 2,500 Nautical Mile leg (4,630 km). This will permit the Polaris tanker to ferry a flight of four CF-18 Hornets non-stop across the Atlantic Ocean.

Canada’s Air Force has not had this capability since it retired its fleet of CC-137 (Boeing 707) aircraft in 1997.

The CC150T successfully passed 14,000 pounds of fuel to three German Air Force Tornado fighter aircraft during the Customer Acceptance Flight completed on 30 May 2008.

The new SAAR capability, which will be based at 8 Wing Trenton, Ont., will permit fighter aircraft to fly longer distances without landing to refuel. The Air Force has used CC-130 Hercules aircraft from 435 Squadron at 17 Wing Winnipeg for tactical air-to-air-refuelling, however, the aircraft is limited by range and fuel capacity.

The SAAR capability modification to two of the CC150 Polaris five-aircraft fleet still permits the  primary role of long-range transport of personnel and equipment, as the newly configured aircraft remains capable of carrying  cargo and/or passengers.


Additional information