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F-16 Fighting Falcon Comes in for a Refuel and a Close-Up, Nails Both

Aerial refueling is that type of military operation that seems to be serving a double purpose. First, it keeps aircraft in the air far longer than they would have been capable with the fill they leave their bases with. Secondly, it keeps us entertained with incredible close-ups of aircraft coming in to feed, courtesy of the personnel flying inside the tankers, and the Air Force's habit of showing them pics to us.
F-16 Fighting Falcon during aerial refueling 23 photos
F-16 Fighting Falcon during aerial refuelingRomanian Air Force F-16 Fighting FalconsFour F-16 Fighting Falcons flying over RomaniaF-16 Fighting Falcon over the Nevada Test and Training RangeF-16 Fighting Falcons chasing KC-135 StratotankerF-16C Fighting FalconF-16 Fighting FalconF-16C Fighting Falcon taking off from New JerseyAggressor Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon taking offRoyal Moroccan Air Force F-16Royal Moroccan Air Force F-16Royal Moroccan Air Force F-16Royal Moroccan Air Force F-16Royal Moroccan Air Force F-16Royal Moroccan Air Force F-16Royal Moroccan Air Force F-16Royal Moroccan Air Force F-16Royal Moroccan Air Force F-16Royal Moroccan Air Force F-16Royal Moroccan Air Force F-16F-16 Fighting Falcon in Operation Inherent ResolveF-16 Fighting Falcons over Niceville, Florida
One of the latest images to come our way thanks to these camera-wielding soldiers is this one we have here, snapped in mid-April and recently released by the U.S. Air Force. A perfect fit in our Photo of the Day section, thanks not in small part to the angle at which it was snapped, making us all feel like this refueling op is taking place with both planes banked.

The fighter jet, the star of the image, is an F-16 Fighting Falcon deployed with an unspecified unit. When snapped on film, it was flying over New Mexico and met up with a KC-135 Stratotanker flying out of Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington.

The photo was taken during a training mission being conducted as a means for F-16 crews to maintain mission readiness. We are not being told what the mission was or for how long it lasted.

Generally, an F-16 can hold enough fuel (up to 7,000 pounds/3,175 kg internally, or 12,000 pounds/5,440 kg with two external fuel pods) to travel more than 2,000 miles (3,200 km), ferry range (far less when in combat configuration).

Depending on the mission profile and the pilot’s stamina, that can be prolonged, theoretically, to forever thanks to aerial refueling. Sadly, although there are countless F-16s flying in the service of a large number of national air forces, we have no data on the longest distance covered by such a plane in a single outing.

 
 
 
 
 

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