F/A Hornet fuels above Qld for Exercise Talisman Sabre
THE F/A-18 Hornet hovers next to the left side of the airborne KC-10 Extender aircraft, waiting for its turn for the petrol pump 7300 metres (24,000 feet) high in the sky.
When a second fighter jet finishes topping off its fuel, the Royal Australian Air Force Hornet slowly moves from the left side and to the back, and manoeuvres ever so slightly until it faces the rear of the US Air Force KC-10.
Gently at first, then with a little nudge forward, it attaches a red probe to a long hose with a basketlike claw being dragged behind the larger plane.
Seated in a small room on the bottom rear of the larger plane and looking out at the jet through a glass viewing window is Senior Airman Rodel "Bungy" Ubungen, the KC-10's boom operator.
He controls the hose and basket - called a drogue - that pumps fuel to the jets.