USAFE provides fuel for the fire at Saber Strike

Four A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft fly next to a KC-135 Stratotanker during Saber Strike 18, June 8, 2018. All four A-10s were refueled in flight allowing them to more quickly return to their training and provide support for the exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo Staff Sgt. Jimmie D. Pike)

Four A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft fly next to a KC-135 Stratotanker during Saber Strike 18, June 8, 2018. All four A-10s were refueled in flight allowing them to more quickly return to their training and provide support for the exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo Staff Sgt. Jimmie D. Pike)

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon deployed to U.S. Air Forces in Europe from the 120th Fighter Squadron at Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado receives fuel in flight by a KC-135 Stratotanker over Latvia during Saber Strike 18 June 6, 2018. The KC-135 aircraft provides aerial refueling capabilities for the U.S. and its partners allowing an enhanced projection of airpower. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jimmie D. Pike)

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon deployed to U.S. Air Forces in Europe from the 120th Fighter Squadron at Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado receives fuel in flight by a KC-135 Stratotanker over Latvia during Saber Strike 18 June 6, 2018. The KC-135 aircraft provides aerial refueling capabilities for the U.S. and its partners allowing an enhanced projection of airpower. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jimmie D. Pike)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Andre McClain, 171st Air Refueling Squadron boom operator, prepares a KC-135 Stratotanker’s boom to refuel aircraft during Saber Strike 18 June 8, 2018. Boom operators are responsible for being the pilots’ eyes at the back of the aircraft as well as operating the boom during refueling missions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jimmie D. Pike)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Andre McClain, 171st Air Refueling Squadron boom operator, prepares a KC-135 Stratotanker’s boom to refuel aircraft during Saber Strike 18 June 8, 2018. Boom operators are responsible for being the pilots’ eyes at the back of the aircraft as well as operating the boom during refueling missions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jimmie D. Pike)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jordan Kaminski, 171st Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 boom operator, operates and monitors a boom pod during Saber Strike 18 over Latvia, June 6, 2018. Boom operators are responsible for controlling the boom, an apparatus that provides fuel to other aircraft during flight, and enabling a farther projection of air power. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jimmie D. Pike)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jordan Kaminski, 171st Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 boom operator, operates and monitors a boom pod during Saber Strike 18 over Latvia, June 6, 2018. Boom operators are responsible for controlling the boom, an apparatus that provides fuel to other aircraft during flight, and enabling a farther projection of air power. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jimmie D. Pike)

An A-10 Thunderbolt II refuels during flight while partaking in Saber Strike 18 over Latvia on June 8, 2018. Aircraft used KC-135 Stratotankers to refuel, extending their flight time and effectiveness during the exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jimmie D. Pike)

An A-10 Thunderbolt II refuels during flight while partaking in Saber Strike 18 over Latvia on June 8, 2018. Aircraft used KC-135 Stratotankers to refuel, extending their flight time and effectiveness during the exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jimmie D. Pike)

Pilots from the 127th Wing, Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Michigan, fly a KC-135 Stratotanker over Latvia during Saber Strike 18 June 6, 2018. The KC-135 aircraft provides aerial refueling capabilities for the U.S. and its partners allowing an enhanced projection of airpower. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jimmie D. Pike)

Pilots from the 127th Wing, Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Michigan, fly a KC-135 Stratotanker over Latvia during Saber Strike 18 June 6, 2018. The KC-135 aircraft provides aerial refueling capabilities for the U.S. and its partners allowing an enhanced projection of airpower. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jimmie D. Pike)

The U.S. and Latvian flags fly side by side in a KC-135 Stratotanker during Saber Strike over Latvia on June 6, 2018. Latvia is one of 19 countries participating in Saber Strike, an exercise aiming to improve capabilities and relations between the U.S. and its counterparts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jimmie D. Pike)

The U.S. and Latvian flags fly side by side in a KC-135 Stratotanker during Saber Strike over Latvia on June 6, 2018. Latvia is one of 19 countries participating in Saber Strike, an exercise aiming to improve capabilities and relations between the U.S. and its counterparts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jimmie D. Pike)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Luke Luikens and 1st Lt. Jennifer Logsdon, 171st Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 Stratotanker pilots, fly a KC-135 for a refueling mission during Saber Strike 18, June 8, 2018. During Saber Strike, KC-135s were used to refuel other aircraft such as the A-10 Thunderbolt II and the F-16 Fighting Falcon, to prolong their flight time for extended training scenarios. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jimmie D. Pike)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Luke Luikens and 1st Lt. Jennifer Logsdon, 171st Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 Stratotanker pilots, fly a KC-135 for a refueling mission during Saber Strike 18, June 8, 2018. During Saber Strike, KC-135s were used to refuel other aircraft such as the A-10 Thunderbolt II and the F-16 Fighting Falcon, to prolong their flight time for extended training scenarios. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jimmie D. Pike)

A KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an A-10 Thunderbolt II during flight while partaking in Saber Strike 18 over Latvia on June 6, 2018. Both aircraft are from the 127th Wing at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Michigan, and are deployed in Europe to support the exercise Saber Strike 18.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jimmie D. Pike)

A KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an A-10 Thunderbolt II during flight while partaking in Saber Strike 18 over Latvia on June 6, 2018. Both aircraft are from the 127th Wing at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Michigan, and are deployed in Europe to support the exercise Saber Strike 18. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jimmie D. Pike)

RIGA, Latvia– -- While working with 18 other countries in the Baltics, KC-135 Stratotankers deployed to U.S. Air Forces in Europe are demonstrating, over Latvia, what the air component of warfighting is capable of doing.

During the U.S. Army Europe led exercise, Saber Strike 18, KC-135s provided aerial refueling to A-10 Thunderbolt IIs and F-16 Fighting Falcons allowing the aircraft to extend their projection of air power.

“On any given flight we can carry more than 200,000 pounds of fuel and refuel multiple aircraft to increase their range of effectiveness,” said Senior Airman Andre McClain, 171st Air Refueling Squadron boom operator. “Potentially, we can double or even triple an aircraft’s maximum flight time. We can keep refueling aircraft to keep them in the air, as long as we have enough gas to get us back home safely.”

By efficiently leveraging the in-flight refueling capability, pilots can more quickly respond to threats and assist friendly forces.

“In comparison to refueling on the ground, aerial refueling cuts down the time it takes to refuel an aircraft by approximately an hour and a half,” said McClain. “This gets the aircraft back in the fight much faster. Saber Strike has been the perfect opportunity to practice this capability.”

In addition to fine tuning skills, the exercise also intends to build stronger partnerships to assist with maintaining regional security.

“Us being here gives us valuable training working with the Latvians,” said Maj. Deryck Castonguay, 171st Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 instructor pilot. “It’s valuable because it gives them insight to our training, how we work, and what we can do together (with them).”

In addition to the Latvians, aircraft refueled by the 171st ARS have also been assisting other partners from Estonia and Lithuania to help increase interoperability.

“Exercising with our partners is essential because it allows us to work together fluidly, properly posture ourselves, and to be prepared for anything,” said Castonguay