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F-16 Fighting Falcon Feeding at Night Plays a Scary Game of Light and Shadows

In our journey through the world of military machines, we’ve come across aerial refueling operations on more than one occasion, with various hardware being involved. It’s not every day though that we come across an image of the same process being conducted at night. And we must say, now that we did, it’s quite a scary sight, in more ways than one.
F-16 Fighting Falcon refueling at night 18 photos
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The main pic of this piece (click photo to enlarge) shows, shrouded in the shadows, the silhouette of an F-16 Fighting Falcon. It’s gliding silently and patiently at the end of a refueling boom that comes out of a KC-135 Stratotanker, feeding the fighter plane the necessary vigor to continue on its mission above the “U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.”

The photo was taken at the beginning of December and, as said, it’s both an extraordinary and a scary sight, with scary in more than one way.

First, it’s a frightening image, visually speaking, as it appeals to that part of our brains that has always been frightened by the dark and things lurking in the dark.

Then, it’s scary from the point of view of the operation itself. Aerial refueling is not something easily done, not even during the day, as it requires the perfect coordination of fast-flying aircraft that need to come together in perfect sync and stay tied to each other until enough fuel has passed from one to the other.

For some pilots though, this is a routine operation now, and as seen here, part of the day at the office. And what an office the Fighting Falcon is…

Officially, while packing drop tanks and with no unnecessary hardware to weigh it down, the Falcon can travel for as much as 2,600 miles (4,200 km) on a single outing. It can do that for far less than that, about 500 miles (860 km) while on air-to-surface combat missions.

Aerial refueling can keep these birds in the air for as much as it takes though, and when that’s not an option, the U.S. Air Force can always turn to hot pit refueling.

 
 
 
 
 

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