RAF Voyager with F-35 fighter jets (Picture: MOD).
Royal Air Force tanker crews and their aircraft have spent two weeks in the Netherlands as part of a major multinational refuelling exercise to improve interoperability between them.
Normally based at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, crews from 10 Squadron and 101 Squadron spent a fortnight operating from Eindhoven Air Base during European Air Refueling Training (EART) 19.
It allowed tanker crews from several nations to familiarise themselves with each other's tactics and aircraft.
Alongside the RAF Voyager was a Dutch KDC-10, a German A310, while the French and USA each brought a KC-135.
A number of aircraft were refueled by the Voyager during the operation - including Typhoons from the German Luftwaffe.
Leading the detachment supporting the RAF’s A330 Voyager tanker, Squadron Leader Craig Gibson said:
“The opportunity to train with our partner nations has been fantastic.
"By operating alongside Dutch, French, or German tankers in one formation, we have been able to practice tactics and techniques that we can only do on an exercise like EART, refueling French Mirage 2000 and German Typhoon fighters throughout the two weeks.”
Oli, one of the pilots, explained how air-to-air refuelling differs for tanker and fast jet crews:
“In the likes of Op Shader, the preparation for tanking Typhoons amounts to 95% of our mission whereas for the fighter pilot it is just 5% of their day.
"It is important for us to understand their needs and the pressures upon them when they join us to refuel.”
In the first year of RAF participation in the exercise, air and ground crews were given practice and experience at working away from their home base - operating in such conditions provides training for future operations.