Tag Archives: Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker

U.S. F/A-18s, AV-8Bs and EA-6Bs certified for refueling from Italian Air Force Boeing KC-767A

The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps fighter components have obtained the certification to refuel from the Italian Air Force Boeing KC-767A tankers.

One of the four Italian Air Force KC-767A aircraft has completed the testing required to certify the U.S. Navy fighter component to perform AAR (Air-to-Air Refueling) operations with the new tanker.

The certification activities took place at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Maryland, home of VX-23, VX-31 and Marine Aircraft Group 14, where the Italian tanker, belonging to the 14° Stormo (Wing) Strategic Transport and Air Refueling from Pratica di Mare, deployed on Aug. 19.

According to the ItAF, the whole operation was completed in 10 weeks, six of those were focused on flight testing with U.S. Navy / U.S. Marine Corps Hornets, Super Hornets, Harriers and Prowlers.

Roughly one year ago, the RSV (Reparto Sperimentale Volo – Italian Flying Test Unit) deployed to the U.S. with the KC-767A to carry out the first certification of a USAF tanker with stereoscopic vision system (Remote Vision System – RVS). Furthermore, in the same period, a KC-767A belonging to 8° Gruppo (Squadron) of the 14° Stormo became the first international tanker to successfully complete aerial refueling of a U.S. Air Force F-35A during a boom receiver certification refueling flight conducted over California’s High Desert region on Jul. 29, 2015.

The KC-767A is a specific variant obtained from the commercial aircraft Boeing 767-200ER “Extended Range.” Equipped with both the sixth generation flying boom (based on the one of the American KC-10), and three hose and drogue stations, the tanker is be able to refuel both aircraft equipped with onboard receptacle and those with a refueling probe.

AUGUST 25 2016 NAS Patuxent River MD. VX-23 SD402 ITALIAN KC767 AR Testing. Pilot MAJ Mathew Decoursey. USMC Project ID160825-N-UZ648. FOR PUBLIC RELEASE Official USN Photographs by Erik Hildebrandt

Interestingly, whilst in a KC-135 the “boomer” (as the operator is nicknamed) is prone and moves the flying boom in the receptacle watching the receiver through a rear observation window, in the KC-767 the operators move the boom using a joystick and watching the video from a series of cameras mounted on the tanker’s rear fuselage. The advanced camera system feeds a Remote Vision System that provides high-definition stereoscopic imagery to the vision goggles attached to a sort-of flight helmet worn by the boomer during the air-to-air refueling.

In May 2011, few weeks after being delivered, the KC-767 had its “baptism of fire” in Libya, boosting NATO’s AAR capability by supporting Italian Eurofighter, Tornado IDS and ECR, and AMX involved in Operation Unified Protector.

Since then, the fleet has been certified for refueling with several allies: it supported British Eurofighters to LIMA 13 airshow, conducted collective aerial refueling certification and testing with Gripen and Rafale fighter jets and escorted the Spanish EF-18 and Eurofighter Typhoons to Konya, in Turkey, for Anatolian Eagle 2014-2.

The KC-767A are currently supporting Operation Inherent Resolve, flying under the command of Task Force Air Kuwait, as part of the Italian “Prima Parthica” operation.

The Italian Air Force KC767A aircraft are a valuable NATO asset that often support allied aircraft as part of the European Air Transport Command (EATC).

Similar to the KC-767A is also the KC-46 Pegasus, a military variant of the Boeing 767 destined to replace the U.S. Air Force fleet of KC-135E Stratotanker refuelers in the coming years.

AUGUST 26 2016 NAS Patuxent River MD. VX-23 SD402 ITALIAN KC767 AR Testing. Pilot MAJ Mathew Decoursey. USMC Project ID160825-N-UZ648. FOR PUBLIC RELEASE Official USN Photographs by Erik Hildebrandt

Image credit: USN Photographs by Erik Hildebrandt

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Pakistani F-16C/D Block 52+ jets enroute to Green and Red Flag in the U.S. perform stopover at Lajes Field

Pakistani Air Force F-16s are in bound Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.

On Jul. 19, six Pakistani AF F16C/D Block 52+ combat jets landed at Lajes Field, Azores, along with two USAF KC-135R Stratotanker aerial refuelers from McConnell AFB.

The aircraft, belonging to the n° 5 Squadron “Falcons” of the PAF, were in bound to U.S. where they will take part in the Green Flag and Red Flag exercises at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.

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The aircraft are deploying to the U.S. (a trip of +7,700 miles) via Saudi Arabia, Souda Bay (Crete), Lajes (Portugal).

This is the second time the PAF Vipers take part in a Red Flag: the very first time was in 2010.

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Image credit: APS-Associação Portugal Spotters

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Awesome Air-to-Air Shots of Air Refueling Operations During Anakonda-16 Exercise in Poland

U.S. tankers refuel Polish F-16s.

Anakonda-16 and Baltops-16 exercises are currently underway in Poland, involving numerous air assets.

Several combat planes operating within a realistic modern air combat scenario over the Polish territory must be supported by AAR (Air-to-Air Refueling) operations.

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During the last week, Filip Modrzejewski visited the Powidz Air Base, near Gniezno, where 4 U.S. Air Force KC-135 tankers from the 434th Air Refueling Wing and 100th Air Refueling Wing are stationed.

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Cooperation between Foto Poork and USAF made it possible for Filip to obtain the unique shots, including photographs that depict the thirsty Polish Air Force F-16 jets getting refueled during the training operations.

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The task is not easy, since the photographer needs to take a laying position, in limited space and very limited visibility.

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The Polish F-16 jets are being refueled from both the 100th ARW and the 434th ARW tankers, while the presented shots have been taken from the tanker belonging to 100th ARW, operating from RAF Mildenhall.

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Besides the AAR operation, Anakonda-16 exercise also featured massive airdrop, near the Torun military training range. The airborne units were tasked with taking over a bridge. The operation is still in progress and we may see more unique material coming up in the next few days.

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Image Credit: Filip Modrzejewski/Foto Poork

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Two U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors deploy to Romania for the first time

Two F-22 Raptors and one KC-135 Stratotanker arrived in Romania.

Two F-22s and approximately 20 supporting Airmen, with the 95th Fighter Squadron, Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, arrived at Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, Romania, on the on Apr. 25.

The F-22s belong to the contingent (the largest Raptor deployment to Europe to date ) recently deployed to RAF Lakenheath, UK, and will remain at the Romanian airbase on the Black Sea coast, for a brief period of time before returning to the UK, to continue their training deployment.

“Today, we rapidly deployed these aircraft, along with a KC-135 Stratotanker, here to showcase our flexible response and our range of capabilities,” Lt. Gen. Timothy Ray, 3rd Air Force commander, said in a U.S. Air Force release.

“These aircraft have the ability to project air dominance quickly, at great distances, to defeat any possible threat.”

“It’s important we test our infrastructure, aircraft capabilities, and the talented Airmen and allies who will host these aircraft in Europe,” said Gen. Frank Gorenc, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa commander. “This deployment advances our airpower evolution and demonstrates our resolve and commitment to European safety and security.”

12 F-22s deployed to Europe (three sections of 4 Raptors) along with ANG F-15s in the last few weeks to deter further  Russian aggression: four Raptors took part in the flyover for the 100th anniversary of LaFayette Escadrille whereas the F-15s have taken part in Frisian Flag exercise before heading to Bulgaria.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

Here are the first images of the U.S. Air Force F-15s providing air policing duties in Iceland

The Eagles have arrived in Iceland.

Beginning on Apr. 1, 12 F-15C Eagles belonging to the 131st Fighter Squadron, Barnes Air National Guard Base, Massachusetts, and the 194th Fighter Squadron, Fresno Air National Guard Base, California, have deployed to Europe as part of the latest iteration of a Theater Security Package (TSP).

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The 6-month tour in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve aims to augment the Air Force presence in a specific region, for deterrence purposes.

F-15 Iceland taxi

Whilst 8 of the F-15s went to Leeuwarden Air Base, Netherlands from where they will also take part in Exercise Frisian Flag, four Eagles deployed to Keflavik, Iceland, to undertake air policing duties in support of NATO: using radio callsign “Kubid 61-62-63-64”, the jets arrived late on Apr. 3, supported by a KC-10 tanker “Bobby 61.”

F-15 Iceland land

As done by the TSPs last year, during their six months in theater, the F-15s will also forward deploy to other NATO and partner nations to include Bulgaria, Estonia and Romania.

F-15 Iceland land KC-10

Image credit: Eggert Norðdahl