‘My Goodness, the Skills It Takes!’: Pentagon Spokesman Swoons Over Air Force Refuelling Video
13:20 GMT 26.07.2021 (Updated: 13:41 GMT 26.07.2021)
© Photo : Twitter / @PentagonPresSecBoeing E-4B command and control plane being refueled in mid-air. Screengrab of video posted by Pentagon spokesman John Kirby.
© Photo : Twitter / @PentagonPresSec
The first experiments in aerial refueling began in 1920s, less than 20 years after the invention of the airplane. However, the exercise only became common practice in in early 1950s, when the US and its allies found a way to keep long-range bombers meant to nuke Eastern Europe and China in the event of war in the air for longer.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby expressed his excitement and admiration over the skills of US military pilots involved in the mid-air refuelling of a Boeing E-4B airborne command post aircraft, posting a short video of the procedure on Twitter.
The video, shot from inside the E-4B’s cockpit, shows the plane attached to the refuelling aircraft, likely a Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker, via a heavy-duty trailing hose.
Kirby did not attribute the video or specify where the refuel took place, and whether it was a recent or archival footage. However, flight trackers reported Monday that four KC-135s had taken off from Yokota Airbase in Japan early Monday to refuel one E-4B and a second unidentified plane over the western Pacific. It takes two fully topped up KC-135s to refuel a single E-4B.
The E-4B is designed to evacuate America’s civilian leadership and Pentagon top brass in the event of a nuclear war and the destruction of ground and satellite communications. The US Air Force has four E-4Bs in its inventory, with the plane design first introduced in the mid-1970s and upgraded repeatedly since that time.
26 July, 11:13 GMT
Over two dozen nations have mid-air refuelling capable aircraft in their inventory. However, only a handful of aircraft manufacturers, including the US’s Boeing, Europe’s Airbus and Russia’s Ilyushin, have the technical capability to build tankers.