Check Out These Awesome Shots Of Four RNoAF F-35A Jets Refueling For The First Time From A French C-135 Tanker

Four RNoAF F-35A "breaking" (All images: EMA COM)

The aerial refueling of four RNoAF (Royal Norwegian Air Force) F-35A Lightning II stealth aircraft from a French Air Force C-135FR provided an opportunity for some great shots.

Last week, a C-135 from Air Refueling Squadron (ERV) 4/31 “Sologne” from Istres Air Base 125, carried out an aerial refueling mission using the flying boom to refuel, for the very first time, four F-35As from the Royal Norwegian Air Force supporting NATO Icelandic Air policing.

“This mission underscores the importance of operational cooperation between two countries allowing, on the one hand, the maintenance of crew qualifications and, on the other hand, capacity building for interoperability,” said the French Air Force on their website The principle of refueling with the flying boom does not apply to French fighter planes. In fact, the French C-135 normally use the flying boom with a hose and drogue system to refuel the French fighters, which are equipped with an IFR (In-Flight Refueling) probe instead of a receptacle (like the one of the F-35A). “However, expanding the in-flight refueling capabilities of French squadrons to foreign nations equipped with this system is essential”.

For instance, the C-135FR aircraft used the flying boom to refuel the B-52 bomber in 2017.

The joint mission allowed the French Air Force to take some great images of the receivers.

The French and the Royal Norwegian Air Force have already taken part in joint multinational exercises such as the “Trident Juncture” in 2018, or the “Artic Challenge Exercise” (ACE ). In June 2021, a new edition of the ACE should also take place in Bodø, in Norway, with the participation of the 30e Escadre de Chasse.

For what concerns the Norwegian F-35s, four Lightning II jets have deployed to Keflavik, Iceland to carry out the NATO’s Icelandic Air Policing mission. It’s the second time the Norwegian Lightnings deploy there to perform Quick Reaction Alert duties in support of NATO’s Airborne Surveillance and Interception Capabilities to meet Iceland’s Peacetime Preparedness Needs (ASIC IPPN) mission.

As shown in the photos, the RNoAF F-35A are equipped with a drag chute pod: Norwegian F-35s are unique compared to other nations’ F-35s as they are the only ones at the moment to use a drag chute during landing, housed in a special fairing on the upper rear fuselage between the vertical tails. It can be used to rapidly decelerate Norwegian F-35s after landing on icy runways under windy conditions.

Four RNoAF F-35 as seen from the C-135FR boom station. (All images: EMA COM)
About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.