A Royal Air Force Atlas C1 transport aircraft has been refueled over the South Atlantic for the first time. The Atlas was flown from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire to Ascension Island before flying on to the Falklands.
During the flight the transport aircraft was met by a RAF Voyager over the South Atlantic, that had earlier taken off from Mount Pleasant Airfield, the principal base on the Falkland Islands.
The Atlas aircraft was refueled using what is known as the probe-and-drogue system.
This sees a refueling probe extend from the front of the Atlas, above the cockpit, with the pilot docking the probe into the basket of the drogue extended from the Voyager to allow refueling.
Squadron Leader Al Spence, 30 Squadron, captain of the Atlas aircraft, said it was a fantastic privilege to be part of the mission.
Being part of any 'first' is a big deal and being able to demonstrate what we can do with this aircraft is what it's all about, he added. Air-to-air refueling is one of the most challenging manoeuvres for pilots.
The operation sees the pilot of the receiving aircraft maintain close formation with the tanker aircraft while fuel is transferred by the Mission Systems Operator, flying in the Voyager.
Captain of the Voyager aircraft, Flight Lieutenant Dane James, said the Voyager's capability to extend the global reach of our aircraft is remarkable.
It was a great privilege to captain the Voyager on the first operational re-fuel of an Atlas, after successfully meeting them some 900 nautical miles south west of Ascension Island and 2,600 nautical miles north east of Mount Pleasant Airfield.