How The US Reaches Targets On The Other Side Of The World

Photo: USAF/Master Sgt Val Gempis

A report by the centre For Strategic And International Studies released Thursday points out that there can be no effective strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities without over half the US B-2 fleet making the long flight to Tehran.With 19 B-2s scattered about only a handful of US bases from Missouri to Ohio, the trip to the Mid-East won’t be made without a constant supply of mid-air refueling.

This is how that elaborate and technical process would occur.

Think of the plane that enables the military to respond anywhere in the world on short notice. It's not a fighter jet — it's the tanker

The KC-10 Extender, just one tanker aircraft used for aerial refueling, can carry 356,000 pounds of fuel — jets don't have to land to gas up

Aerial refueling tankers and their crew are the quiet enablers of air power

Their missions send them around the world 24/7

An operator onboard a tanker will extend the boom into the aircraft being refueled — an A-10 Thunderbolt II here

Taken from footage of the F-35's first night refueling mission, the jet approaches the tanker and has to fly in steady formation

The two aircrafts' air speeds have to be in sync, making mid-air refueling a very difficult manoeuvre for the pilot on the receiving end

Fighter jets like the F-35 can accept fuel at 1,000 to 3,000 lbs per minute

An A-10 Thunderbolt II approaches the refueling boom of a KC-135 Stratotanker

And a B-2 bomber fuels up

BONUS: See below for the symbolism behind this patch

Ultramarine blue and Air Force yellow are the Air Force colours. Blue alludes to the sky, the primary theatre of Air Force operations. Yellow refers to the sun and the excellence required of Air Force personnel. The globe with the stylised aircraft represents the unit's ability and requirement to provide air refueling anytime, anyplace, under any conditions 20-four hours day or night. The olive branches symbolise the unit's contribution to the Air Force mission of maintaining peace.

Source: 126th Air Refueling Wing

The Air Force doesn't fail to impress

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