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, Lentoposti.fi 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 Lentoposti.fi 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.
US QID15 active over Finland. pic.twitter.com/PAHkehJqNP
— Jamming (@balticjam) March 16, 2021
The exercise also provided an opportunity for a cool photoshoot.
Finnish F/A-18s have flown training missions this week in 🇫🇮 airspace with 🇺🇸 @48FighterWing F-15Cs and F-15Es, 🇺🇸 @RAFMildenhall KC-135s and 🇩🇪 @Team_Luftwaffe Eurofighters. #airpower#Cooperation bolsters #interoperability and enhances Finland’s defence capability. #ilmavoimat pic.twitter.com/6Xw9Jf1KzR
— Ilmavoimat (@FinnishAirForce) March 18, 2021
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!