F-35 Lightning II Goes for the Unnatural Way to Refuel

The U.S. Air Force (USAF) and its personnel sure do like to take and share snapshots of their machines in action. Because these are flying beasts we’re talking about, we mostly get to see said machines while in their natural environment, doing all sorts of things.
F-35 Lightning II on hot pit refueling in Japan 17 photos
Photo: USAF/Airman 1st Class Anna Nolte
F-35 Lightning II on hot pit refueling in JapanF-35A Lightning IIs over the UKF-35A Lightning IIs on an elephant walkF-35A Lightning II with the 495th Fighter SquadronF-35A Lightning II at Thunder and Lightning Over ArizonaF-35A Lightning II on vertical ascentF-35 Lightning buzzing the CN TowerF-35A Lighting IIF-35A Lightning IIF-35 LightningF-35A Lightning IIF-35A Lightning IIF-35A Lightning IIF-35A Lightning IIF-35 Lightning cruising subsonic into the sunsetF-35A Lightning II demo team schedule
One thing airplanes seem to enjoy doing a lot is refuel while mid-air. Such instances give airmen flying in the tankers the perfect angle for amazing photographs, many of which we’ve featured here in our Photo of the Day section as well.

Because of that, we’re not exactly accustomed to seeing military aircraft being refueled on the ground. That does happen though, unnatural as it may seem, probably more often than aerial refueling. But there’s a twist here as well.

You see, apart from the usual way of pumping fuel into the tanks, while the plane is stationary and its engines turned off, the USAF also employs something called hot pit refueling. And it’s not unlike pit stops we get to see in the racing world.

With tankers, hoses and personnel close to the runway, the airplane comes in and lands, pulls next to the single-point refuel pump, and starts getting its fill with the engine still running. Once that is done, it can rapidly take off, heading for whatever mission awaits it.

According to the USAF, this way of doing things “cuts down on response time and ensures the mission can be completed anytime, anywhere.”

The F-35A Lightning II we have here is on exactly such a mission. The deck it sits on belongs to the Kadena Air Base in Japan, and the op took place at the beginning of March.

Visible in the image are also the tip of the refueling hose, an airman and two Marines, but also the pilot of the F-35, which we’re pretty sure you missed when you first looked at the photo.
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Editor's note: Gallery shows other F-35s.

About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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