Tag Archives: C-135FR

Here Are The Very First Photos Of The New A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport In French Air Force Livery

The Armée de l’air has just made public the first images of the new MRTT Phénix sporting French Air Force livery and markings.

With a post on their official FB page, the French Air Force has released the first air-to-air shots of the first A330 MRTT Multi Role Tanker Transport for France.

The aircraft, which will be known in French service as Phénix, is the first of nine ordered by the French Defence Procurement Agency DGA (plus another three expected to be confirmed). The FAF A330 MRTT made its first flight in September 2017. It features structural modifications, aerodynamic improvements, upgraded avionics computers and enhanced military systems and it was converted in Getafe from a standard A330 assembled in Toulouse.

The photographs just released appear to have been shot earlier today, based on the timestamp on the images. The depicted A330 sports the text “31 EARTS” below the front door just behind the cockpit, from the  31e escadre aérienne de ravitaillement et de transport stratégiques a French Air Force unit activated on Aug. 27, 2014 at Istres and currently equipped with the C-135FR, the text ARMEE DE L’AIR and the emblem of the GRV 02.091 on the tail.

A side view of the new A330 MRTT. The timestamp suggests the image was taken on Jul. 6, 2018, few hours before the photos were released on FB by the French Air Force FB page.

According to Airbus Defence and Space, the Phénix fleet will be equipped with a combination of the Airbus Aerial Refuelling Boom System (ARBS) and underwing hose-and-drogue refuelling pods. Fifty-one A330 MRTTs have been ordered by eight nations.

Image credit: French Air Force. Make sure you visit their official FB page for more shots.

French C-135FR Tanker Refuels U.S. Air Force B-52 Bomber Over Europe In Rare International Refueling Operation

This is something you don’t see too often: a U.S. Stratofortress bomber refueled by a foreign tanker.

On Sept. 25, a U.S. Air Force B-52H Stratofortress deployed to RAF Fairford, UK, refueled from a French Air Force C-135FR belonging to the Groupe de Ravitaillement en Vol 2/91 “Bretagne” from Istres.

B-52 bombers from the 2nd BW are currently deployed to Europe for three weeks to support Bomber Assurance and Deterrence operations (BAAD).

A French air force KC-135 Stratotanker, refuels a B-52 Stratofortress over Europe Sept. 25, 2017. The Stratofortress is deployed from Barksdale Air Force Base, La., to RAF Fairford, United Kingdom in support of bomber assurance and deterrence operations. U.S. Strategic Command bomber forces regularly conduct combined theater security cooperation engagements with allies and partners, demonstrating the U.S. capability to command, control and conduct bomber missions across the globe. Bomber missions demonstrate the credibility and flexibility of the military’s forces to address today’s complex, dynamic and volatile global security environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Joshua J. Garcia)

Based on the footage released by the U.S. Air Force, the C-135FR involved in the refueling mission was the example 471/31-CB that was tracked online while flying over the Tyrrhenian Sea in bound to the refueling area over the Mediterranean Sea via Mode-S/ADS-B transponder (H/T to @CivMilAir for catching the tanker)

Part of the track followed by a FAF C-135FR during the Sept. 25 mission tracked via Mode-S. Image credit: @CivMilAir

Although U.S. Strategic Command bomber forces regularly conduct combined theater security cooperation engagements with allies and partners, demonstrating the U.S. capability to command, control and conduct bomber missions across the globe, the bombers are almost always refueled by U.S. Air Force KC-135s or KC-10s.

Still, B-52s can be refueled by other types of tankers for testing or operative purposes.

For instance, an Italian Air Force Boeing KC-767 tanker (s/n 14-01) refueled a U.S. Air Force Boeing B-52H-150-BW Stratofortress (s/n 60-0036) over California’s Mojave Desert on Mar. 5, 2007, as part of the tanker’s flying boom testing at Edwards Air Force Base, California (USA).

An Italian Air Force Boeing 767 tanker refuels an Edwards B-52 over California’s Mojave Desert on March 5, 2007. The tanker successfully extended its fifth generation, fly-by-wire air refueling boom and transferred fuel for the first time to another aircraft. (Photo by Jet Fabara)

And, as proved by Sept. 25 mission, the “Buff” can be refueled by the French C-135FR that is quite similar to the U.S. KC-135. Usually the FAF tankers operate with a basket attached to the flying boom since FAF planes use the hose and drogue system and get the fuel through an IFR (In Flight Refueling) probe.

The aging fleet of C-135FRs, the French variant of the C-135 used as dual-role tanker/cargo and troop carrier aircraft, will be replaced with A400M and A330 MRTT (Multi Role Tanker Transport) aircraft. The latter, called the “Phénix” when in service, has been ordered in nine examples by France (plus an additional three that have not yet been confirmed.)

 

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Five Rafales, one Atlantique 2 and one C-135 involved in France’s air strike in Syria

The French contingent has struck IS positions in Syria earlier today.

On Sept. 27, five Rafale jets, an Atlantique 2 and a C-135 tanker aircraft “launched by airbases located in Jordan and the Persian Gulf,” were involved in the first mission against an ISIS training camp in Syria as part of Operation Chammal.

Launched on Sept. 19, 2014, Chammal has seen a contingent counting now 12 tactical jets (six Rafale, three Mirage 2000D and three Mirage 2000N aircraft) and one Atlantique 2 MPA (Maritime Patrol Aircraft) take part in the air strikes (bombing targets and flying reconnaissance missions) against Islamic State positions in Iraq.

The first air strike in Syria was preceded by 12 ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) missions conducted from Sept. 8 to 24, that helped to identify targets of interest located in the regions controlled by the terrorist organization: a “self-assessment” capacity, as the French MoD dubbed it in an official statement released after the mission.

The air strike targeted a training camp located in the Euphrates valley, south of Deir Ez Zor: a “deliberate strike” on a target previously recognized and cross-checked with the help of the US-led coalition.

The mission lasted five hours (with a take off time at 06:30AM French time) and the target was successfully destroyed.

Image credit: French MoD

 

Video of E-3F AWACS refueled mid-air by French tanker over Iraq

French C-135FR refueling Belgian Air Force F-16 and E-3F AWACS over Iraq during air strikes on ISIS.

You don’t see an AWACS refuel mid-air too often. Although AAR (Air-to-Air Refueling) of E-3s take place quite often, the size of the aircraft and the rotating radar dome may make the operation a bit more difficult than usual.

In this case, the video shows a French Air Force E-3F taking gas from a French C-135FR over Iraq, during air strikes on ISIS in both Syria and Iraq.

During the same sortie, the French tanker refueled also an F-16AM of the Belgian Air Force, carrying a GBU-12 LGB (Laser Guided Bomb), a GBU-38 JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition), two AIM-120 AMRAAMs (Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles) and two AIM-9 Sidewinder IR-guided air-to-air missiles.

The aging fleet of C-135FRs, the French variant of the C-135 used as dual-role tanker/cargo and troop carrier aircraft, will be replaced with A400M and A330 MRTT (Multi Role Tanker Transport) aircraft.

French Air Force celebrates 50th Anniversary of Strategic Air Forces with three stunning special colors

Armée de l’air celebrated the 50th anniversary of the FAS (forces aériennes stratégiques) with three special colored planes.

On Oct. 3, with a ceremony held at Istres airbase, the French Air Force celebrated 50 years of French deterrence by the Forces Aériennes Strategiques which are responsible for Paris’s nuclear weapons.

The first nuclear alert took place on Oct. 8, 1964 with a Dassault Mirage IV, armed with AN-11 nuclear bombs, supported by a Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker of the so-called Force de Frappe (French for Strike Force).

C135 Rafale

French assets of the FAS have been on continouos alert since then, an achievement marked with three special colors: a Rafale, a Mirage 2000N and a C-135FR.

Rafale Mir2000

Two are the nuclear squadrons of the French Air Force, each consisting of 20 aircraft: EC (Escadron de chasse) 1/91 Gascogne at Saint-Dizier equipped with the Rafale B, and EC 2/4 Lafayette at Istres equipped with the Mirage 2000N.

Image credit: French Air Force