View Full Version : Tankers give pilots a hookup

06-26-04, 05:12 AM
Tankers give pilots a hookup
Submitted by: MCAS Iwakuni
Story Identification #: 20046252307
Story by Pfc. Lydia Davey

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska(June 25, 2004) -- An F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet, geared to perfect mechanical readiness and loaded with lethal weapons, is completely useless without fuel.

This is where the KC-135 Stratotanker flies in.

In a recent mission during Northern Edge 2004, fighter pilots were required to fly several hundred miles over the Alaskan wilderness - and several hundred miles from the nearest fuel source.

A KC-135E, manned by the Illinois Air National Guard's 108th Air Refueling Squadron, Scott Air Force Base, Ill., took to the skies in support of the mission.

Within four hours, the four-man crew had successfully off-loaded the appropriate amount of fuel from their tanks.

"The mission was a success," said Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Sam Gerras, in-flight refueling program manager for the squadron.

According to www.af.mil, the KC-135's principal mission is air refueling. The aircraft is capable of providing refueling support to Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps aircraft, as well as aircraft of allied nations.

The KC-135 entered active service in 1975. The aircraft served as part of the Strategic Air Command (SAC), serving as a link in the command's role of nuclear deterrence.

When bombers were kept in the air for around the clock nuclear alert, the KC-135 was there to refuel them. When the bombers went on ground alert, the KC-135 joined them, until the end of alert duty when SAC was ordered down by President George H. W. Bush in November 1991.

"Currently, the bulk of the fleet belongs to the Air Mobility Command," said Gerras.

"The aircraft has served in combat during the Vietnam War and Desert Storm," he added.

According to the Air Force Web site, the KC-135 can transfer 150,000 pounds of fuel up to 1,500 miles or ferry cargo up to a range of 11,015 miles.

The KC-135 joined more than 150 other aircraft which participated in Exercise Northern Edge 2004.

Exercise Northern Edge '04 is an exercise designed to enhance interoperability among the services by sharpening and honing joint service techniques and procedures. It helps provide a ready force capable of protecting America's interests at home and abroad.

More than 9,000 airmen, Sailors, soldiers, Marines and Coast Guardsmen from active duty, reserve and National Guard units are participating in this year's exercise.


Maj. Ralph DeLatour (left), aircraft commander, navigates his KC-135E Stratotanker as Capt. Nick Babiak, copilot, checks the controls as they taxi their aircraft at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska on June 11 during Exercise Northern Edge 04. Both pilots are from the 108th Air Refueling Squadron, 126th Air Refueling Wing, Illinois Air National Guard, Scott Air Force Base, Ill. Photo by: Northen Edge '04 Combined Joint Information Bureau