Last night saw American aircraft conduct a significant number of refuelling exercises off the British coast with two KC-135 aircraft refuelling MC-130Js and V-22s simultaneously on the east and west coast.

While the act of American refuelling aircraft refuelling American aircraft off the British coast isn’t unusual, it’s not common for so many to be in the air at the same time conducting this training. Not to say that this is a sign of anything interesting, it’s just not something that happens every week and I found it interesting.

While the aircraft show as C-130J on tracking, given their home base of RAF Mildenhall and the registration showing on the tracking, it is likely that they’re MC-130J aircraft of the 352nd Special Operations Wing. Additionally, the KC-135 aircraft from Mildenhall appear to be part of the 100th Air Refueling Wing.

This happened in November last year too.

Where are these units based?

The KC-135s are from RAF Mildenhall. The British base is host to the 100th Air Refueling Wing, the only air United States Air Force refuelling wing in Europe. Mildenhall essentially serves as a bridge between the US and Europe and the Middle East, allowing aircraft to refuel mid-air or resupply on the airfield before continuing to their destination.

The MC-130Js are, according to Lockheed Martin, “multimission combat transport/special operations tankers capable of worldwide employment for missions requiring clandestine single- or multi-ship low-level aerial refuelling of Special Operation Force vertical and tilt-rotor aircraft and/or infiltration, resupply and exfiltration by airdrop, or landing on remote airfields”, they’re also based at RAF Mildenhall and are part of the 352nd Special Operations Wing.

George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. He also works for the NHS. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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Marked
Marked
7 months ago

A number of F15E’s flying around North Yorkshire last night as well. Noisy buggers those things! They are keeping themselves busy.

Damo
Damo
7 months ago
Reply to  Marked

Thanks. I couldn’t make out what they were

Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
7 months ago

…and we’re getting rid of ours. Aargh.

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
7 months ago

Would we actually use v-22 ospreys to there potential. They have a much smaller load than a chinook the plus points they do have is speed and range. Is there many situations the uk has been in that chinook has not been enough? As nice as the tilt rotor is I think the mod is right to wait until the cheaper next gen tilt rotor are ready. While the puma upgrade should of been canned and the extra funds for a replacement been found we are where we are. US Blackhawks are up for replacement soon. Obviously this will take… Read more »

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
6 months ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

The new version of the osprey has been selected for COD on the USN carries as it can carry the F35 engine, we (the RN) do not have that capability at the moment. It is my belief that if both carriers had a flight each of Ospreys for COD duties and to help out with ship to shore transfers we would see a good step forward in capacity for our 2 carriers.

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
6 months ago

Do we think the navy or the us navy would not just take the spare engines to start with? I don’t know but it would seem like the easy thing to do. Taking 20 jets. Take 10 spare engines. Don’t use them, take them off again. the us navy is in a league of it’s own. It would be silly to try and emulate them without a massive budget. Does the Royal Navy do much vertical replenishment? Is there anything they can’t manage with the kit they have? I don’t know the answers. Next gen tilt rotors will be better.… Read more »

Steven Alfred Rake
Steven Alfred Rake
6 months ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

Yes the next generation looks to be better but we keep waiting and waiting now we are in a situation with a Navy with very little offensive capability as they are waiting for the next generation of missile to come out, and army that has been gutted and will be waiting to replace equipment that should have been replaced 20 years ago and an RAF just waiting I agree due to the lack of airframes on our carriers we would have space to stow a few spear engines but they are complex bits of kit and have to be fully… Read more »

Jay
Jay
7 months ago

They do this regularly

Phylyp
Phylyp
7 months ago

“… American refuelling aircraft refuelling American aircraft…”

Bet you got a kick out of this phrasing! 🙂

Chris
Chris
7 months ago

Had a number of C130’s come low over the house last night transiting from Teesside Airport to the KC135 just off the coast… Sounded like they were going to take my roof with them it was so loud

bainsey
bainsey
7 months ago
Reply to  Chris

An osprey came low over our house too, in Leek Staffordshire. Never heard anything like it.