The Royal Air Force’s Voyager KC. Mk 2 Air-to-Air Refuelling (AAR) tanker has completed the first UK refuel of the F-35B Lightning II jets.
According to the RAF’s statement, the refuel took place on the 16th October 2018, over the North Sea at 19,000ft. The Voyager, based at RAF Brize Norton, home to the RAF’s Air Mobility Fleet is no stranger to refuelling fast jets, being the RAF’s sole AAR capability.
The Voyager KC. Mk 2, is equipped with two underwing pods for refuelling fast jets, and the Voyager KC. Mk 3 has an additional centreline hose for use by larger aircraft.
“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,” said Voyager Captain 101 Squadron.
The F-35B Lightning II is the RAF’s newest combat aircraft, operated by 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.
“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.” said Navy F-35B Lightning Pilot 617 Squadron.
The F35-B Lightning II is a short takeoff and vertical landing, multi-role, stealth aircraft. The aircraft combines advanced sensors and mission systems with low observable technology, or ‘stealth’, which enables it to operate undetected in hostile airspace. Its integrated sensors, sensor fusion and data linking provide the pilot with unprecedented situational awareness. The pilot is able to share information gathered by the jet with other platforms using secure data links, and/or use the information to employ weapons or electronic means.
The Lightning fifth-generation combat aircraft will operate alongside the Typhoon. Lightning is a multi-role machine capable of conducting missions including air-to-surface, electronic warfare, intelligence gathering and air-to-air simultaneously.