Refueling Hose Of U.S. Air Force KC-135 Tanker Detaches And Falls To The Ground In Finland

A KC-135 of the 100th Air Refueling Wing and two Finnish Air Force F-18 Hornets. (Image credit: Finnish Air Force)

A KC-135 Stratotanker aerial refueler lost the refueling hose during Ex. Baltic Trident mission over Finland. And it was not the first time.

A bizarre incident occurred to a U.S. Air Force KC-135 involved in air-to-air refueling operations in Finland airspace on Mar. 16, 2021. The hose of the tanker detached from the Stratotanker and feel to the ground southeast of Kihniö, reported. Fortunately, the falling hose did not cause any other damage to things or people.

In order to refuel aircraft equipped with probe, the KC-135, that normally uses the flying boom for receivers with receptacles, carries a hose and drogue system attached to a pod in the wing. While the cause of the incident is yet to be determined, the Finnish Air Force confirmed to that the hose did not come loose because of the contact with an F/A-18 Hornet’s IFR (In Flight Refueling) probe.

The U.S. KC-135 was supporting Baltic Trident, a multinational exercise involving assets from Estonia, Finland, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, United Kingdom, and United States. Along with the tanker, U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagles and F-15E Strike Eagles belonging to the 48th Fighter Wing from RAF Lakenheath and German Air Force Eurofighters currently deployed to Amari AB, Estonia, to support NATO’s Baltic Air Policing, were taking part in the drills in the FInnish training areas between Tampere, Seinäjoki, Kokkola, Oulu and Jyväskylä, and over Estonia.

The drills continued despite the incident, with another USAF KC-135 Stratotanker tanker operating over Finland on the following day.

The exercise also provided an opportunity for a cool photoshoot.

Interestingly, this wasn’t the first time a USAF KC-135 had an issue with the hose in Finnish airspace: in 2016, the hose fell to the ground after being damaged by a Finnish Air Force Hornet attempting to refuel. A similar incident occurred also in 2015, again caused by a Hornet: that hose was found in the terrain about a year later.

H/T to @robbanstockholm for the heads-up!

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.