Following the arrival of the first nine F-35B Lightning II aircraft earlier this year, the first UK refuel took place on 16th October, around 19000ft over the North Sea.
As the RAF’s sole Air to Air Refuelling (AAR) capability, the Voyager and its crews are adept at refuelling fast jets and welcomed operating with this new aircraft type. Using underwing refuelling pods, Voyager was instrumental in bringing the F-35B Lightning II from the US to the UK in June and July earlier this year.
No. 101 Squadron Voyager Captain, said:
“The Voyager aircraft offers a highly capable Air-to-Air Refuelling capability, with which we provide regular support to many of the RAF’s fixed wing aircraft. Supporting the new F-35B, as it enters service, is a hugely important task for the Voyager Force. Today’s sortie went extremely well and builds on the Air-to-Air Refuelling deployment sorties flown from the US to the UK earlier this year. We look forward to enhancing our support for the F35B during this important period for the F-35B development programme.”
The F-35B Lightning II is the RAF’s newest combat aircraft, operated by No. 617 Squadron based at RAF Marham, Norfolk. This multi-role aircraft can conduct missions including air-to-surface, electronic warfare, intelligence gathering and air-to-air simultaneously.
No. 617 Squadron Royal Navy F-35B Lightning II Pilot, said:
“It’s fantastic to be able to link up the UK’s 5th generation asset with the RAF’s Voyager tanker in UK skies for the first time. Being able to refuel from an asset such as Voyager gives the F-35B the ability to deliver world beating air power at range in defence of the nation.”