KDC-10 flight, AAROn Monday June 7th 2010, the Public Affairs Office (Luchtmacht Voorlichting, LuVo) of the Dutch Air Force (Koninklijke Luchtmacht, Klu) organised a media flight in a KDC-10 tanker aircraft from Eindhoven airbase. This media flight was organised to give the Dutch aviation press a chance to check if ‘the sun is always shining behind the clouds’ during the aerial refuelling of various aircraft.
The 4 hour lasting flight took-off from Eindhoven airbase, the homebase of the 2 KDC-10’s of 334 squadron of the Klu. When arrived above a large stretch of sea in the north of the Netherlands, the racetrack pattern was flown and after a while the first receivers arrived, being 2 German F-4s from Wittmund airbase. Before and after refueling, the F-4 were positioned besides the KDC-10, when some nice photos were made from this old aircraft; the German Airforce will retire this aircraft type very soon.
After the F-4’s some 2 E-3A AWACS aircraft from the NTAO base of Geilenkirchen (Germany) arrived for refueling. The first E-3 was busy for 1 hour exercising the aerial refueling techniques, then it left flying well below the tanker. The second E-3 only refueled shortly and after refueling it was positioned to the left side of the KDC-10. This aircraft was the specially decorated E-3, which was painted in 2007 for the 25 year existence of the E-3A at Geilenkirchen airbase.
After the second E-3 left, the KDC-10 decided to return to base (RTB) and after landing it was possible to have a view at ‘the office’ of the boomoperator, who controls the refueling boom. Contrary to the American KC-135 and KC-10, the Dutch boomoperators do not work in the tail of the aircraft with direct visual contact to the receiving aircraft. They work near the cockpit and the operate the boom by wires, they see the aircraft using sophisticated cameras that project a 3 dimensional image on e screen. With special 3-D glasses it is possible to see depth on the 2D screens.
At the same time, the renewed Tanker Remote Vision System (TRVS) was demonstrated. This renewed 3-Dimensional vision system is operationally used since May 2010 and it offers razor-sharp images (3 times sharper than the human eye can see) to refuel various aircraft via a screen instead of via a direct view on the aircraft with the naked eye. The TRVS combines a very resolution with a large contrast and it is possible to work in difficult circumstances, like in complete darkness and when facing the sun directly with the cameras. TRVS is designed and built fir the Klu by ‘TNO Defensie en Veiligheid’ in close cooperation with the companies ARVOO, ADIMEC, BARCO and GLENAIR. The implementation into the KDC-10 airframe was done by ‘KLM Engineering en Maintenance’. The TRVS was designed with the Dutch KDC-10’s in mind but it can be applied into any type of aerial refueling aircraft. Recently, on the ARSAG conference (Aerial Refueling Systems Advisory Group), in Orlando (USA), the TRVS received a lot of attention. Which was related to the American KC-X programme, which is working on the next generation of aerial refuelers for the USAF.
Thanks to the Luchtmacht Voorlichting and Buro Voorlichting of Eindhoven airbase for this aerial refueling flight.
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