RAF MILDENHALL, England -- Total Force Airmen of the 507th Maintenance Group from Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, maintained KC-135R Stratotankers here in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve, strengthening the relationship between Air Force Reserve Command and U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa, July 1-29.
Atlantic Resolve is an ongoing operation to demonstrate U.S. commitment to the security and stability of NATO allies while improving interoperability between partner nations.
Seven maintenance personnel from the 507th MXG worked the second half of the month-long rotation, including three specialists in avionics, engines and sheet metal. The group readied and recovered aircraft for “Okie” flight crews with Tinker AFB’s 465th Air Refueling Squadron, who in turn carried out seven flying sorties across 10 working days.
“The Reserve units taking the mission set for Atlantic Resolve have increased USAFE’s tanker capabilities as whole,” said 1st Lt. Lydia Hill, 100th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron officer-in-charge. “They allow the RAF Mildenhall aerial refueling mission to have more flexibility, so overall USAFE has a stronger tanker presence in the area of responsibility.”
One tanker unit from AFRC will be in monthly rotation to RAF Mildenhall until the end of the fiscal year, according to Maj. Walt Mettler, AFRC tanker air liaison officer with the 349th Air Mobility Operations Squadron at Travis Air Force Base, California.
Mettler, a Reservist and KC-10 Extender pilot, is augmenting the 100th Operations Group as the AFRC tanker ALO and is responsible for planning all refueling missions for Air Force Reserve units rotating through Mildenhall.
“I plan all the AFRC-led refueling missions,” Mettler said. “I help receive the new crews, get them in and bedded down, fed and rested, and then show them where to go for their flight.”
Senior Master Sgt. Justin Henry, 507th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron NCO-in-charge, said he was impressed with the support provided by the 100th Maintenance Group’s composite tool kits, supply shop, maintenance operations center and aerospace ground equipment shop.
“We are excited to be an extension of the 100th MXG and to help them accomplish the mission,” Henry said. “So far, they’ve been very supportive, helping us with anything we need. Everybody’s been great.”
Staff Sgt. Jason Collins, 507th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron engine mechanic, was selected for the TDY because of his specialty as an engine mechanic and his qualification to perform engine runs.
“An engine run is necessary following a leak check or operations check,” Collins said. “For example, if there was a problem with an engine or with avionics, I would run the engines after repair to pressurize the systems and make sure it’s working as advertised.”
Key to the Oklahoma Airmen’s success has been coordinating with their 100th Air Refueling Wing counterparts.
“We have visited with the 100th MXG and set up a line of communication with the production superintendents and crew chiefs,” said Master Sgt. Roger Carr, 507th AMXS crew chief. “If we require a technician from a specialty shop, we can just request it over the radio and the 100th Maintenance Operations Center will provide us with what we need.”
In fiscal year 2017, the 507th ARW will operate a total of three monthly rotations to RAF Mildenhall. The following Reserve units have also deployed to support USAFE air refueling requirements: The 459th ARW, Joint Base Andrews, Maryland.; 452nd Air Mobility Wing, March Air Reserve Base, California.; 916th ARW, Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina; 931st ARW, McConnell AFB, Kansas; 940th ARW, Beale AFB, California.; and the 434th ARW, Grissom Air Reserve Base, Indiana.