One for Pontius

Walking the dog on Ryde beach this morning (it was a cracking weather) I was a bit puzzled at seeing what seemed to be a Sea King with day-glo patches fore and aft hovering over a Wightlink car ferry. It then ambled off and hovered over a merchant ship anchored off St Helens, before flying off in the direction of Portsmouth. I tried to take pix with phone, but much too far away.

But checking on the web, I found this:
That would be about right. Heliops are operating two ex RN Seakings painted in the familiar grey and orange livery.
I work just opposite them and have yet to see them in daylight!!!!
Just out of curiosity, who's going to refuel them and what with?

Similar but not RN colours
The RAF would love to have a rotary AAR capability. Unfortunately, A400M has some...err...'problems' in this area to the extent that even France have pretty much given up and have bought some KC-130Js to tank their Caracals. It's possible that Germany may also seek to convert some of their order for 6 x C-130Js (also bought due to A400M shortfalls) to tankers as well. Unfortunately, I fear that it's unlikely the UK will be able to afford KC-130Js in the current economic climate.

On the assumption that we won't get such tankers, the options would therefore appear to be be USAF MC-130Js or the French/German aircraft. The former are based at RAF Mildenhall but current plans see them moving to Germany in 2022 ish.

From a maritime perspective, the USMC also have KC-130Js which may be allow leverage of the RN, RM and RAF relationships with them via amphibiosity and F-35B. However, keeping current on those would be all but impossible other than when deployed.

Tbh, reconstituting a JPR - especially with AAR - would be great for the UK; the RAF were establishing it with the exact same Merlin airframes around 15 years ago but the capability was one of those sacrificed at the altar of HERRICK and TELIC. However, I'm a little surprised the Merlin AAR aspect is seemingly being given such a high priority right now given the issues above.

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