Royal Air Force' squadron conducts tactical refuelling in Estonia

According to information published by the Royal Air Force on April 15, 2022, a 47 Squadron C-130J Hercules operating from RAF Akrotiri has been conducting tactical refueling of British Army Wildcat helicopters, which are deployed on a NATO mission in Estonia called Operation CABRIT.

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Royal Air Force squadron conducts tactical refuelling in Estonia  Royal Air Force's C130J Hercules (Picture source: French Armed Forces)

This activity is known as an air-landed aircraft refueling point and enables aircraft to be refueled in austere locations away from their main operating bases. The fuel is provided directly from the aircraft through a network of pipes and pumps. This extends the distance the helicopter can fly and increases the availability of the aircraft by eliminating the need to transit back to base.

This training provides valuable realistic training in an unfamiliar environment to both C-130 and Wildcat crews and proves a capability that can be used to refuel aircraft at temporary landing zones. 30 Squadron has also developed this capability for the Atlas A400M aircraft.

It is part of extensive work to increase the ability of the RAF, Royal Navy, and British Army to work together on operations and as part of a wider NATO force.

Operation CABRIT is a UK-led operational deployment to Estonia where British Army troops are leading a multinational battlegroup as part of NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence.

The Wildcat Mk1 helicopters were operated by 659 Squadron of 1 Army Air Corps. The helicopters can perform a range of tasks on the battlefield including reconnaissance, command and control, transportation of troops and material, and the provision of force protection.

The Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules is a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft. The C-130J is a comprehensive update of the Lockheed C-130 Hercules, with new engines, flight deck, and other systems.

The C-130 Hercules primarily performs the tactical portion of the airlift mission. The aircraft is capable of operating from rough, dirt strips and is the prime transport for airdropping troops and equipment into hostile areas.