“Fueling the fire”: 435 Squadron delivers air-to-air refueling for a quarter century

This is a milestone year for 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron whose members are celebrating 25 years of operational air-to-air refuelling (AAR) with the CC-130HT Hercules tanker aircraft.

435 “Chinthe” Squadron is located in Winnipeg, Manitoba, but reports to 19 Wing Comox, British Columbia.

As proud refuelers for a quarter of a century, 435 AAR crews have seen the world through myriad different exercises and operations, delivering a critical enabling capability for Canadian and allied fighter jets.

By the end of 1992, the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) had taken delivery of five new CC-130H Hercules aircraft. At Northwest Industries Limited in Edmonton, Alberta, they were converted to the CC-130HT tanker configuration. Combining a fuselage tank capable of carrying 24,000 pounds of jet fuel, new fuel lines and drogue-style air refueling pods, CC-130HTs provided the RCAF with a flexible AAR asset for its probe-equipped fighters.

The first aircraft modified was tail number 130339 and the initial aircrew course was completed in 1993. Shortly thereafter, the squadron carried out its first operational AAR mission. On February 11, 1993, 435 Squadron assisted in the intercept of a high-jacked Lufthansa Airbus A310 off the East Coast of North America in conjunction with the United States Air Force.

During their first few years of operations, AAR crews from 435 Squadron participated in numerous operations and exercises as aircrew and technicians alike quickly became…

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