Commercial Tanker Refuels B-52 And MC-130 For The First Time

Commercial Tanker Refuels B-52 And MC-130

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Commercial Tanker Refuels B-52 And MC-130
An Omega KDC-10 business air-to-air refueler flies alongside a U.S. Air Drive B-52 Stratofortress assigned to the forty ninth Take a look at and Analysis Squadron, Barksdale Air Drive Base, Louisiana over the Pacific Ocean after efficiently offering air-to-air refueling to the B-52 for the primary time, March 10, 2024. Leveraging the aptitude of economic air-to-air refueling permits the U.S. Air Drive to extend warfighter readiness within the precedence theater and across the globe. The KDC-10 transited from Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea to Andersen Air Drive Base, Guam finishing 4 profitable, secure contacts with the B-52 and a U.S. Air Drive MC-130J. (Courtesy Photograph)

An Omega KDC-10 refueled the 2 plane over the Pacific Ocean in March.

The U.S. Air Drive’s Pacific Air Forces command not too long ago disclosed that business aerial refueling companies have been used for the primary time to refuel a B-52H Stratofortress and an MC-130J Commando II. The command mentioned that this permits to reoptimize assets to fulfill the strategic challenges in a time of nice energy competitors.

The mission passed off over the Pacific Ocean, inside the PACAF space of duty, on March 10, 2024, and noticed an Omega KDC-10 refueling a B-52 assigned to the forty ninth Take a look at and Analysis Squadron from Barksdale Air Drive Base, Louisiana, and an MC-130J assigned to the first Particular Operations Squadron from Kadena Air Base, Japan.

“To compete and win, the Joint Drive wants resilient and various capability to get the warfighters the place they have to be after they have to be there,” mentioned Lt. Col. Matthew Spinelli,  forty ninth Take a look at and Analysis Squadron commander, Barksdale Air Drive Base, Louisiana. “Having a further means and capability depth in our air refueling and logistical actions is vital to success. Lengthy-range bombers now have further means to get into and out of theater quickly and in the end provide the joint drive extra presence, firepower, and mass of drive the next consistency. Industrial air is a should for U.S. Indo-Pacific Command operations given the character of the theater.”

The KDC-10 transited from Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam finishing 4 profitable, secure contacts with the B-52 and MC-130J. Leveraging the aptitude of economic air-to-air refueling permits the U.S. Air Drive to extend warfighter readiness within the precedence theater and across the globe, mentioned the service.

“These kinds of missions considerably advance Whole Drive energy projection capabilities and exponentially enhance readiness,” mentioned Col. Jon Baize, Chief of Contingency Operations at Headquarters PACAF. “With business air refueling in theater, wings and warfighters noticed a direct return on funding, getting coaching and distinctive alternatives they in any other case couldn’t get on this AOR on account of demand sign for tankers outpacing provide. By having an on-demand, versatile, extremely mission-capable tanker obtainable, PACAF can open the aperture for international mobility.”

The primary business air-to-air refueling of U.S. Air Drive fighter plane

A commercial KDC‐10 tanker aircraft refuels a U.S. Air Force F‐16 Fighting Falcon from the 51st Fighter Wing
A business KDC‐10 tanker plane refuels a U.S. Air Drive F‐16 Combating Falcon from the 51st Fighter Wing, enroute Commando Sling 23 at Paya Lebar Air Base, Singapore, Nov. 6, 2023. The plane can carry 247,000 kilos of gas for refueling plus as much as 100,000 kilos of freight or passenger payload. This groundbreaking occasion is the primary ever contracted aerial refueling of Air Drive fighter plane which passed off to help the F-16s in Commando Sling 23, highlighting progressive initiatives for drawback decision. (Courtesy Photograph)

Following the first commercial refueling of an E-3 Sentry and an RC-135 Rivet Joint in June 2023 throughout train Resolute Hunter 23-2 at Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada, PACAF recognized a proof-of-concept employment to refuel fighter plane throughout train Commando Sling 23. Throughout this train, a business refueler flew with Air Drive F-16 Combating Falcons from Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, to Singapore to supply aerial refueling enabling the pilots to additional venture airpower.

The Omega KDC-10 supported six F-16s assigned to the thirty sixth Fighter Squadron from Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, in addition to transporting greater than 40 passengers attending the train and 4 pallet positions price of cargo to train the plane’s twin function functionality for airlift in addition to refueling. In keeping with the press launch, by the tip of the train, business refuelers have offered air-to-air refueling to 3 separate airframes: F-15Cs, F-16s, and F-22s.

The service mentioned this proof-of-concept is a pivotal achievement because it demonstrates a key functionality the Air Drive can proceed to leverage enabling a surge in workouts whereas concurrently sustaining rapid mission readiness. This isn’t fully new, because the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps have been leveraging this commercial capability for almost 20 years, however the Air Drive is trying to additional exploit it.

“If we are able to use business air refueling to cowl the purpose A to level B actions for train participation throughout unit readiness coaching, then it frees up our warfighter tanker fleet to be prepared to reply for rising contingency necessities,” mentioned Lt. Col. Curtis Holtman, Pacific Air Forces air mobility operations chief. “That is one other mechanism that we are able to leverage to extend our warfighter readiness.”

PACAF’s proof-of-concept

A U.S. Air Force MC-130J cockpit
A U.S. Air Drive MC-130J assigned to the first Particular Operations Squadron, Kadena Air Base, Japan approaches an Omega KDC-10 business air-to-air refueler over the Pacific Ocean to obtain gas over for the primary time, March 10, 2024. Leveraging the aptitude of economic air-to-air refueling permits the U.S. Air Drive to extend warfighter readiness within the precedence theater and across the globe. The KDC-10 transited from Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea to Andersen Air Drive Base, Guam finishing 4 profitable, secure contacts with the MC-130J and a U.S. Air Drive B-52. (Courtesy Photograph)

Col. Baize and Lt. Col. Shannon Vinson, Chief of Mobility Operations, labored with Air Fight Command, Air Drive Particular Operations Command, Air Drive International Strike Command, Air Drive Materiel Command, and the U.S. Navy Program Administration Exercise (PMA) 226 in help of this historic milestone. PMA 226 manages Contracted Air Services in help of the Naval Aviation Enterprise, together with aerial refueling companies offered by Omega.

The venture is seen as a chance to pursue progressive methods to speed up change and help warfighters, solidifying the continued innovation and sharpening of the capabilities of the U.S. Air Drive. In keeping with the press launch, working in live performance with U.S. Transportation Command and U.S. Naval Air Programs Command, PACAF engaged with the Air Refueling Certification Company at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, to get Technical Compatibility Assessments expeditiously authorized for the A-10, B-52, C-17, and MC-130J to inter-fly with Omega KDC-10s.

“Air refueling mission success enhances our warfighting benefit by breaking down service obstacles, working seamlessly throughout domains with stakeholders world wide together with joint, interagency, particular operations, and Allies and companions,” Lt. Col. Vinson mentioned. “There’s no restrict to what we are able to do as a unified combating drive aligned with our management’s imaginative and prescient of accelerating change.”

The KDC-10, equally to the KC-10 retired by the Air Drive, makes use of a growth working system and may carry 29,000 gallons of gas, and 41,000 gallons of gas with a further fuselage tank. With the aptitude of delivering 400-900 gallons a minute, the KDC-10s flexibility permits U.S. plane to proceed to actively practice throughout operations and workouts whereas integrating alongside Allies and companions all through the area, mentioned the service.

“Aerial refueling is the lifeline of navy operations within the Pacific as a result of tyranny of distance between appropriate airfields,” mentioned Lt. Col. Reagan Mullin, 1st Particular Operations Squadron director of operations, Kadena Air Base, Japan. “The Omega business refueling platform affords navy aircrew working within the Pacific with another choice to coach and acquire mission help when tanker demand exceeds current navy capability. We will’t wait to work with Omega once more!”

The necessity for business aerial refueling

KDC‐10 tanker aircraft refuels a U.S. Air Force F‐16
A business KDC‐10 tanker plane refuels a U.S. Air Drive F‐16 Combating Falcon from the 51st Fighter Wing, enrouts to Paya Lebar Air Base, Singapore, Nov. 6, 2023. The plane options twin utilization with the aptitude to refuel mid‐flight and carry freight or passengers. This groundbreaking occasion is the primary ever contracted aerial refueling of Air Drive fighter plane which passed off to help the F‐16s in Commando Sling 23. CS23 is a Pacific Air Forces‐sponsored bilateral coaching occasion with the Republic of Singapore Air Drive designed to extend interoperability and enhance alliance functionality. (Courtesy Photograph)

Industrial air-to-air refueling shouldn’t be a novelty, because the U.S. Navy has been utilizing it in coaching and non-combat operations for many years. Till now, nonetheless, there was a scarcity of economic tankers geared up with the growth, the primary air-to-air refueling technique utilized by the Air Drive. In truth, the well-known Omega Aerial Refueling Providers, which is usually seen supporting Navy jets, operates KC-707 geared up with probe-and-drogue refueling systems, the popular technique of the Navy.

Solely in 2020 Omega and Metrea acquired a former Dutch KDC-10 and Singaporean KC-135Rs, respectively, equipped with boom system. The primary-ever business growth aerial refueling was then carried out in April 2023, when a Metrea KC-135R refueled two P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol plane over a interval of 4 hours off the coast of Florida.

The Air Drive has been dealing with for some years a tanker scarcity, with the retirement of the KC-10 Extender, the exhaustion of the remaining KC-135 Stratotankers’ service life, and the delays of the brand new KC-46 Pegasus. Due to this, in 2020 the Air Drive carried out a feasibility research to find out whether or not it’s cost-effective to make use of business aerial-refueling companies.

The Air Drive estimated it would want about 6,000 additional flying hours per year, with the extra tanking capability costing between $15,000 and $27,000 per flying hour and taking wherever from one to 10 years to implement. In 2020, Gen. Maryanne Miller, then commander of Air Mobility Command, mentioned business aerial-refueling companies could relieve pressures on the military’s own tankers, filling the hole for U.S. missions when there’s excessive demand overseas.

Stefano D’Urso is a contract journalist and contributor to TheAviationist primarily based in Lecce, Italy. A graduate in Industral Engineering he is additionally finding out to attain a Grasp Diploma in Aerospace Engineering. Digital Warfare, Loitering Munitions and OSINT strategies utilized to the world of navy operations and present conflicts are amongst his areas of experience.

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