What you’re seeing here is the sight one noncommissioned USAF officer deployed with the 350th Air Refueling Squadron found himself staring at through a window of his office in the sky, a KC-135 Stratotanker. A sight the officer decided to share with us all, because we’ll never grow tired of such things either, and these guys know it.
The F-22 Raptor that’s trailing the Stratotanker didn’t come so close because it wanted its picture taken. The plane is coming in for a refueling op, which took place back in August during the Red Flag 21-3 exercise over the Nevada Test and Training Range.
Technically, the F-22 rarely should need aerial refueling. The Lockheed Martin machine is capable of going for as much as 1,841 miles (2,962 km) in a single outing. The two Pratt & Whitney turbofan engines that power it are capable of accelerating the plane at speeds of Mach 2 (1,534 mph/2,469 kph), and can take it to altitudes of over 50,000 feet (15 km).
The KC-135 Stratotanker on the other hand is a much more sluggish best, traveling at speeds of at most 580 mph (933 kph). The four engines fitted onto it are not necessarily there for speed, but to allow it to lift a total gross weight of 297,000 pounds (134,717 kg).