This Is How the B-52 Stratofortress Pulls Up at the Gas Station

The people of the world are by now used to the concept of aerial refueling, a procedure military airplanes have been doing for decades. Yet, only in recent years, thanks to the habit the American Air Force (USAF) has of using the flying gas stations as platform to snap photos of incoming aircraft, that we’ve become aware of just how spectacular this operation really is.
B-52 Stratofortress on a refueling mission near Guam 13 photos
Photo: USAF/Staff Sgt. Lawrence Sena
B-52 Stratofortress on a refueling mission near GuamB-52 Stratofortress at the Changi Air BaseB-52 Stratofortress taking offB-52 StratofortressB-52 StratofortressB-52 StratofortressB-52 StratofortressB-52 StratofortressB-52 StratofortressB-52 StratofortressB-52 StratofortressB-52 Stratofortress after refueling op
Modern-day aerial refueling applies not only to fighter jets, but to pretty much all types of aircraft the USAF (and other national air forces) fields, including, for instance, bombers. Needless to say, operations conducted by all of them, no matter the breed, are equally breathtaking, but the arrival of certain aircraft next to a tanker is rarer than others.

One such rare occurrence is that of a B-52 Stratofortress pulling up below a KC-135 Stratotanker, and that’s exactly what we have here. The image was snapped by a Staff Sergeant back in February, but only recently made public by the military branch.

The massive bomber, deployed with the 96th Expeditionary Squadron, was at the time moving out of Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, on a Bomber Task Force mission, when it had to refuel from the flying gas station flying in the area.

Details of its mission were not disclosed, other than “Bomber Task Force deployments support National Defense Strategy objectives of strategic predictability and operational unpredictability through the speed, flexibility, and readiness of strategic bombers.”

The B-52 is described as a long-range bomber, which can reach targets located as far as 8,800 miles (14,162 km) away, but it may happen that it needs to stay in the air for longer. That’s probably not what we have here, but for its crew to be able to perform long missions when they need to, practicing aerial refueling is mandatory.
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Editor's note: Gallery shows other B-52s.

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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