The following video shows a U.S. Marine Corps KC-130J belonging to Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 352 escorting four MV-22 Ospreys belonging with the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261 from Helmand province, Afghanistan, to the USS Iwo Jima in the Arabian Sea.
The footage shows the four MV-22s flying in a loose echelon formation: formation flying, in airplane mode, requires the aircraft to maintain a minimum cockpit-to-cockpit separation of 250 ft along the bearing line. With less than 50 ft step up/down, pilots should avoid lead aircrafts’ 5-7 O’clock to prevent wake interaction, a serious flight safety issue that can result in an uncontrollable roll and consequent crash.
Dealing with the KC-130J, it is a tactical asset with the unique capability to be able to refuel either combat planes, helicopters (HAAR – Helicopter Air-to-Air Refueling) and tilt-rotor aircraft.
Unlike strategic tankers, that can accompany and refuel trailing planes on long-range ferry flights, the Hercules is suited for round-trip AAR missions within 1,000 miles from the departure airport. At that distance the KC-130J can dispense over 45,000 lbs of fuel to its receivers.
It is also capable of doing it at night, being certified for NVG (Night Vision Goggles) operations.
- NVG Video: MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft conduct leaflet drop in Afghanistan during PSYOPS mission (theaviationist.com)
- First MV-22 Osprey tilt rotor aircraft arrive in Japan (theaviationist.com)
- USS Iwo Jima would have been loaned to the Royal Navy if the British had lost one of their capital ships during the Falklands War (theaviationist.com)