Royal Air Force KC2 Voyager Refueling VMFAT-501 F-35Bs off of the Georgia/South Carolina Coast

Savannah – Yesterday evening, I caught something unexpected, an RAF KC2 Voyager entering the offshore W-areas controlled by SEALORD. Initially I wasn’t able to understand the callsign, but I was able to identify it by its number and its plot on ADS-B Exchange. Shortly thereafter, some F-35Bs from VMFAT-501 at MCAS Beaufort came up and two of the flights asked to work with MADRAS 35, confirming the callsign for me. The F-35s switched from 284.500 where they checked in to a discrete frequency of 376.900 and soon showed up on VMFAT-501 frequency 253.350 to begin refueling with MADRAS 35.

MADRAS 35 (KC2, ZZ330, 10/101 Sqn RAF) working off of Savannah, GA to refuel VMFAT-501 F-35Bs from MCAS Beaufort, SC

Two flights were conducting aerial refueling with MADRAS 35: SWEDE 5# and SWEDE 6#. It sounded like most of the F-35 pilots were RAF pilots in training, although there was at least one US pilot in the mix. I was able to get a partial recording of the refueling ops on 253.350 that starts with SWEDE 6# flight checking in with MADRAS 35.

MADRAS 35 (KC2, ZZ330, 10/101 Sqn RAF) refueling SWEDE 5# and SWEDE 6# (F-35B, VMFAT-501)

I initially thought that MADRAS 35 was working out of Charleston AFB, but after researching ZZ330’s flight history, it appears that it has been working out of MCAS Beaufort for the last couple days after arriving from Colombia on 11 May. ADS-B Tracker’s data shows what looks like refueling activity on Monday evening, 13/14 May (UTC) and Tuesday evening, 14/15 May (UTC). The ADS-B histories for the flight to MCAS Beaufort on 11 May and the refueling flights on 13/14 May and 14/15 May are below.

Hopefully they’ll hang around in the area for a few more days because it’s not every day in southeast Georgia that you get to hear an RAF KC2.

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