Alleged fuel transfer anomalies experienced by a Voyager tanker forced the 5 F-35s to perform an unscheduled visit to Lajes.
On Jan. 22, 2020, five RAF F35B Lightining belonging to 617 Sqn “Dambusters”, departed their homebase at RAF Marham, UK, for Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, where they will take part in Red Flag 20-1, the first RF exercise for the British stealth jets.
F-35s from @OC617Sqn departed today to take part in Exercise RED FLAG @NellisAFB@StnCdrRAFMarham said ” This is another first for the Lightning Force and will give our pilots the opportunity to really put the F-35s to the test in a combat representative environment.” pic.twitter.com/utnKDv4flc
— RAF Marham (@RAF_Marham) January 22, 2020
Accompanied by two Voyager tankers (ZZ332 and ZZ334) and supported by a Spanish P-3M (that provided Oceanic SAR coverage), the five F-35s (ZM141/007, ZM142/008, ZM144/010, ZM146/012 and ZM139/005) were supposed to refuel multiple times over the Atlantic Ocean and make a stopover at MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina.
However, RRR9401 (ZZ332) reportedly experienced fuel transfer issues that made the transatlantic crossing impossible and forced the “package” to land at Lajes Field.
— Manu Gómez (@GDarkconrad) January 22, 2020
The photographs in this post (courtesy of our friends at APS – Associação Portugal Spotters) show the F-35s and one of the two Voyager tankers taxiing after landing at Lajes Field. The aircraft are supposed to attempt the crossing again on Jan. 23, leaving Lajes around 1230Z.