Geared Up F-22 Raptor Pilot Shows Us How Close Planes Get During Refueling

In times of peace, aerial refueling operations are some of the most dangerous maneuvers military pilots have to perform. After all, they have to take their high-speed planes in close proximity to another speeding plane, link to it, and allow for fuel to flow between them. What could go wrong?
F-22 Raptor pilot smiling unseen at a flying gas station 14 photos
Photo: USAF/Tech. Sgt. Caila Arahood
F-22 Raptor shows vulnerable underside with no fearF-22 Raptor over Alaska base during exerciseF-22 Raptor and the American flagF-22 Raptor taking off from Alaska baseF-22 Raptor taking off from HawaiiF-22 Raptor taking offF-22 Raptor over Nellis Air Force BaseF-22 RaptorF-22 RaptorF-22 RaptorF-22 RaptorF-22 RaptorF-22 Raptor
Of all the militaries in the world, the American one does this the most often. After all, the nation has over 600 tanker aircraft in operation, the largest fleet of its kind in the world, and more than twice the size of all tanker fleets flown by all other nations combined.

On account of it being a global presence, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) needs this kind of refueling more often than anyone else. And this is why pilots constantly train for this kind of mission, and from time to time we're treated to snapshots of how they go, photos usually taken by the crew of the tankers, and showing just how intimate the two types of aircraft come to be.

One fine example of such an occurrence is the pic we have here, snapped at the beginning of May and published by the Air Force this month. The image was taken from inside a KC-135 Stratotanker flying over Florida during exercise Sentry Savannah.

According to the USAF, this exercise “is the Air National Guard’s premier counter air exercise, encompassing 10 units of fourth and fifth-generation fighter aircraft testing the capabilities of warfighters in a simulated near-peer environment and training the next generation of fighter pilots for tomorrow’s fight.”

The pic shows a very impressive instance of a fully geared-up pilot, sitting in the cockpit of an F-22 Raptor, and looking up at the one taking the photo, probably thousands of feet up in the air. All while probably smiling under that black visor...
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Editor's note: Gallery shows various F-22s.

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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