USAFE provides fuel for the fire at Saber Strike
By Staff Sgt. Jimmie D. Pike, United States Air Forces in Europe Public Affairs
/ Published June 08, 2018
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