Home' Air Force News : October 28th 2010 Contents 3
October 28, 2010
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AUSTRALIA'S THIRD KC-30A made
its maiden flight at Brisbane Airport
on October 13.
The aircraft is the second to
be converted by Qantas Defence
Services from an Airbus A330-200
airliner at its Brisbane facility.
Conversion includes the installa-
tion of refuelling systems and other
structural changes, allowing it to per-
form the Multi-Role Tanker Transport
The KC-30A has departed
Australia for Europe, where it will
be painted in RAAF colours and the
return to Australia for delivery and
Another two KC-30As are already
in Spain as Airbus Military and DMO
work towards acceptance of the first-
of-type aircraft in December. Once
members of 33SQN are trained on
LEUT Brooke Olds
THE recent handover of Force Commu-
nications Unit (FCU) 3 to FCU 4 in the
Middle East signified the first time that
Air Force has assumed command of the
WGCDR Antony Houghton from
Headquarters Air Command is the
Commander, SQNLDR Pete Mulroney
from 1 Combat Communications
Squadron (1CCS) is the XO and WOFF
Mick Lennon from 37SQN is the Unit
WGCDR Houghton said it was a
privilege to be the inaugural Air Force
CO for the unit, taking over from Army.
Based at Al Minhad Air Base
(AMAB) in the United Arab Emirates,
FCU has been operating for two years
under Army command. It is populated by
personnel from across the three services,
from a mix of units across Australia.
"Around 130 Army, Navy and Air
Force personnel have been generated
from 23 separate units in Australia to
create FCU 4," WGCDR Houghton said.
"The bulk of our people come
from 1st Combat Signals Regiment at
Robertson Barracks in Darwin and 1CCS
"Our role is to deliver communica-
tions support to all Australian elements
in the Middle East," WGCDR Houghton
"We have nodes and personnel based
at all Australian locations across the
"Though necessary to achieve our
mission, the distribution of our personnel
and assets provides one of the biggest
challenges for our unit -- command and
"Our people are located right
throughout the Area of Operations and
that brings its own administrative and
Mother Nature also brought her own
complications to the mix, he said.
"There are the temperature extremes,
snow, dust storms and even earthquakes.
"All of these phenomena can impact
heavily upon communications, and
troops need to communicate regardless
of the weather."
Despite the challenges, the FCU 4
command team is determined to stay
focused on the mission.
"Our main goal here is to ensure that
the Commander in AMAB is able to com-
municate with his forward-deployed forc-
es," WGCDR Houghton said.
"We're doing our bit to ensure that
Australian forces have the tools to
achieve their mission of promoting sta-
bility in the region through the mentor-
ing of Afghan forces."
He said FCU 4 provided phones,
secure email systems and internet
intra-theatre, inter-theatre and back-to-
headquarters in Australia, making sure
Australian communications systems can
talk with the various communication sys-
tems that ISAF partners use.
"We're also here to ensure that the dig-
gers located at the furthest patrol bases can
Skype their families, speak on the phone
and send e-mails to their loved ones."
FCU 4 will remain in the Middle East
for the usual eight-month rotation before
handing over to the Army-led FCU 5.
HIGH GOALS: The Force Communications Unit 4 team, from left, XO SQNLDR Pete Mulroney, commander
WGCDR Antony Houghton and Unit Warrant Officer WOFF Mick Lennon.
Photo: CPL Raymond Vance
our bit to
the tools to
mission of pro-
in the region
-- WGCDR Antony
the KC-30A, there will be a period
of work-up and operational test and
evaluation leading up to achievement
of initial operational capability in late
Qantas is modifying a fourth
A330 airliner into a KC-30A in
Brisbane, and delivery of the fifth
and final aircraft to 33SQN is due in
Meanwhile, Airbus Military
achieved a milestone on October 5
when it was granted military certifi-
cation for the KC-30A MRTT design.
Certification was provided by
Spanish military certification author-
ity Instituto Nacional de Tecnología
It covers the safe design and
operation of all the military systems
added to the aircraft.
More than 280 flights with the
first production KC-30As for the
RAAF have been conducted.
Air Force assumes
command of FCU 4
in the Middle East
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