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F-16 Fighting Falcons Chase KC-135 Stratotanker Over the Desert, They Look Full

Something few people dared to dream of less than a century ago, airplanes getting together in the sky and touching each other as a means to satisfy momentary needs is something that happens routinely these days. Thanks to aerial refueling, as the planes are getting their fill, so do we, as at times we get to enjoy incredible images captured by the very people involved in such operations.
F-16 Fighting Falcons chasing KC-135 Stratotanker 19 photos
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The latest image to show the moments a bunch of airplanes come in very close proximity to one another was released by the U.S. Air Force last week, and it shows two F-16 Fighting Falcons moving away from a KC-135 Stratotanker after a successful refueling operation.

The pic (click main photo to enlarge) was snapped at the beginning of December somewhere over a desert in the U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility. That includes countries like Afghanistan, Bahrain, Somalia, Sudan, or Yemen.

For people living in these regions, military aircraft in the sky is a constant occurrence, and the F-16 is one of the most widespread machines in action there – and also all over the world, with more than 4,000 of them made over the years and deployed by many nations.

The KC-135, on the other hand, is a rarer sight, with about 400 currently operated by the USAF to support long-duration missions. Like most other planes of its breed, the Stratotanker is crucial to keeping fighter aircraft in the air long past their natural capabilities.

For instance, the F-16 can fly for about 500 miles (860 km) when configured for air-to-surface combat missions, but lacking any weapons and boasting drop tanks instead, the range drastically increases to 2,600 miles (4,200 km).

Technically, aerial refueling could increase those numbers to the point of, well, infinity, if it weren’t for the physical limitations of the pilot and the uselessness of such a flight.

Editor's note: Gallery shows other F-16s.

 
 
 
 
 

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