Tankers play a major role during real ops and large drills. Like BALTOPS 2014.
The following videos were filmed from different KC-135s belonging to the 100 ARW (Air Refueling Wing) from RAF Mildenhall, during BALTOPS 2014 exercise in Northern Europe.
One of the KC-135s equipped with flying boom, refueled some of the 18 F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft from the 52nd Fighter Wing, Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, deployed to Lask Air Base, Poland.
The other Stratotanker refueled Swedish Air Force JAS 39 Gripens by means of the hose released by the underwing pods. The so-called hose and drogue system is used for aircraft equipped with the IFR (In Flight Refueling) probe (U.S. Navy standard) whereas the rigid, telescoping tube with movable flight control surfaces (the “boom”) is used to refuel those aircraft equipped with the U.S. Air Force standard AAR (Air-to-Air Refueling) receptacle.
Noteworthy, the U.S. planes depicted in the footage carry (dummy) missiles, whilst Swedish Gripens are unarmed.
H/T to Lars-Gunnar Holmstrom for the heads-up
I believe that the system is more commonly referred to as the “probe and drogue” system than the “hose and drogue.” At least that is what I have heard more in the US.
One can only imagine how much that grates the Russians to have Western fighters based, patrolling,and refueling in Soviet skies from Soviet airfields. I’m sure most of the pilots who were trained to try and hold the line over Germany are now gone, but to go back and tell them they’d peacefully refuel over Riga and run intercepts against Russian aircraft intruding on Baltic skies would have tripped them out.