How do you top up the tank while on a Combat Air Patrol over Syria? This clip from the DoD shows you how it's done, with F/A-18 Hornets and Super Hornets suckling up to a KC-135's 'iron maiden' refueling basket.
The jet's assignment is offensive counter-air, and out of the group shown, the average loadout appears to be a pair of AIM-9Xs, a trio of AIM-120s, a single AIM-7 and a targeting pod. This combat air patrol configuration underlines the fact that missions over Syria don't come with a guarantee that the Syrian Air Force won't intervene – or someone else even more foolish. It is also interesting to see the Hornet in this pure fighter/interceptor mode as most conflicts they've flown over the last decade included little in the way of air-to-air threats.
Another thing to look out for in the video is the inclusion of the semi-active radar homing, or 'beam-riding,' AIM-7 Sparrow for a real-life combat air patrol. The Sparrow, now fairly ancient by western standards even in its upgraded form, still shows up at training events and live fires from time to time, but it is surprising seeing it on the front line.
Tyler Rogoway is a defense journalist and photographer who maintains the website Foxtrot Alpha for Jalopnik.com You can reach Tyler with story ideas or direct comments regarding this or any other defense topic via the email address Tyler@Jalopnik.com