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Cobham and EADS North America have chosen Bridgeport, West Virginia as the site for an aerial refuelling centre of excellence that will provide components for the Northrop Grumman KC-30 Tanker.

The new facility will produce and support EADS’ advanced aerial refuelling boom system and Cobham’s under-wing hose and drogue refuelling system, developed with its US subsidiary, Sargent Fletcher.

The production site will be established if the Northrop Grumman KC-30 Tanker is selected as the US Air Force’s next generation aerial refuelling aircraft.

EADS North America will supply the KC-30 Tanker’s fly-by-wire aerial refuelling boom system from a new production site, while Sargent Fletcher is to build the aircraft’s two digital underwing hose and drogue pods at an adjacent facility at Harrison County’s North Central West Virginia Regional Airport.

Sargent Fletcher’s all-digital electric pods carry their own power system and can offload approximately 420 gallons (1,589l) of fuel per minute. Fitted with 27.4m long hoses, they are designed for use with probe-equipped receiver aircraft, and are mounted on pre-existing outboard wing structures under the KC-30 Tanker’s wings.

A Sargent Fletcher fuselage-refuelling unit, which utilises the hose and drogue system as well, will also be part of the KC-30’s refuelling capability. It is located within the aircraft fuselage, near the boom and can be used to refuel probe-equipped US Navy/Marine aircraft, and those of allied forces.

EADS North America’s aerial refuelling boom system (ARBS) uses a fly-by-wire design for enhanced controllability and incorporates an automatic load alleviation system, which helps the boom operator and the receiver aircraft’s pilot during refuelling.