McConnell KC-135s deploy to Spain, support allies

AMC, MCCONNELL, KC-135

A KC-135 Stratotanker takes off, July 19, 2016 from McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. McConnell aircrew provides all-weather, in-flight, aerial refueling for U.S. and allied military aircraft and airlift for global reach projection of troops, equipment and supplies, worldwide. KC-135s enable global reach for American and allied aircraft, ensuring swift results in any situation. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Erin McClellan)

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- Two KC-135 Stratotankers, along with 33 McConnell Airmen, are deployed to Moron Air Base, Spain, in continued support of Operation Juniper Micron.

The U.S. Air Force has been providing air refueling and airlift support to French aircraft conducting operations in Mali and North Africa since 2013. This deployment marks the first time that KC-135s from the 22nd Air Refueling Wing have supported the OJM mission.

“I am proud to support our allies,” said Maj. Andrew, 351st Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron detachment commander. “Since French aircraft are stationed far from their areas of operation, the American refuelers create a bridge that allow the aircraft to carry out their long-range missions.”

McConnell KC-135s supplemented the workload of KC-135s assigned to the 100th ARW, RAF Mildenhall, U.K., which typically conducts this mission. RAF Mildenhall is temporarily unable to support the mission due to flightline construction at Istres-Le Tubé AB, France, and Naval Station Rota, Spain, according to headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa.

“The 22nd ARW was selected to support this mission because, quite simply, we are
the most flexible and capable KC-135 unit in Air Mobility Command,” said Andrew. “New threats are popping up all across the globe and tankers will always be there shortly after.”

Although the majority of the crew members and maintenance personnel support came from the 22nd ARW, Airmen from five other bases have deployed to Moron to supporting the OJM mission. Personnel from RAF Mildenhall; Ramstein AB, Germany; Robins AFB, Georgia; Nellis AFB, Nevada; and Fairchild AFB, Washington, are working in conjunction to get the mission done.

“I am honored to be the detachment commander out here,” said Andrew. “The Air Force continues to challenge your weaknesses but also capitalize on your strengths. Many lessons learned from this operation will make our crews and staff better aviators, officers and Airmen after what we have done out here.”