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Air Force Team Demos KC-135 Refuel Drone on F-35 Aircraft

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A U.S. Air Force-led team concluded tests on a drone refueling system designed to work with F-35 aircraft systems. The F-35 Lightning II program team launched an F-35B aircraft to the Edwards Air Force Base along with the KC-135 Stratotanker system to highlight the tanker’s capability to refuel at night operations, USAF said Friday.

The KC-135 works to attach to an aircraft’s lighting assembly through the use of a refueling probe. The ground team used amber and warm white lighting under varying brightness levels and determined that the latter tone will work for the tanker’s operators and the pilots.

“An issue with the current probe light was that it was too bright, blinding the KC-135 aerial refueling boom operators,” said Michael McGee, 418th Flight Test Squadron aerial refueling project manager at Edwards AFB. “The new light was designed to be less bright, but still bright enough for the F-35 pilot to see clearly.”

The Air Refueling Certification Agency will evaluate the tanker’s design and integrate the results into an updated flight clearance for the U.S. Marine Corps and Navy.