An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : Media : News : News Article View
NEWS | Nov. 9, 2023

US Air Force completes first commercial air-to-air refueling of fighter aircraft

By Tech. Sgt. Jimmie D. Pike, Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs

The U.S. Air Force is shifting the way it builds and maintains readiness for flight operations by way of commercial enterprise.

This change isn’t completely new, as the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps have been leveraging this capability for almost 20 years. However, the Air Force is now hopping on board to use commercial refuelers.

“Just this past Summer, a commercial refueling company was able to refuel an Air Force E-3 and an RC-135 in coordination with Air Combat Command during an exercise,” said Lt. Col. Curtis Holtman, Pacific Air Forces air mobility operations chief. “We’re expanding that aperture in PACAF, and identified a proof-of-concept employment to refuel fighter aircraft during exercise Commando Sling 23.”

During this exercise, a commercial refueler flew with Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons from Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, to Singapore to provide aerial refueling enabling the pilots to further project airpower.

The capability of the commercial refueler didn’t end with topping off fuel for Air Force fighter aircraft.

“The KDC-10 was also loaded with more than 40 passengers attending the exercise and four pallet positions worth of cargo to exercise the aircraft’s dual role capability for airlift as well as refueling,” said Holtman.

The accomplishment of this proof-of-concept is a pivotal achievement for the Air Force as it

demonstrates a key capability the Air Force can continue to leverage enabling a surge in exercises while simultaneously maintaining immediate mission readiness.

“If we can use commercial air refueling to cover the point A to point B movements for exercise participation across unit readiness training, then it frees up our warfighter tanker fleet to be ready to respond for emerging contingency requirements,” said Holtman. “This is another mechanism that we can leverage to increase our warfighter readiness.”

According to Holtman, by the end of the exercise, commercial refuelers will have provided air-to-air refueling to three separate airframes: F-15Cs, F-16s, and F-22s.

CONNECT WITH USINDOPACOM

ENGAGE & CONNECT MORE WITH PACOM

                                                 

IN THE USINDOPACOM NEWS
18th MEDCOM Commanding General at LANPAC 24: Remote robotic surgeries to save lives on future battlefields?
18th Medical Command Commanding General Paula Lodi discusses Army Medicine in the Indo-Pacific Region during Land Forces Pacific 2024 in Honolulu, Hawaii, May 14, 2024. 18th MEDCOM sets the Joint theater for medical operations while increasing its strategic posture by synchronizing and coordinating health service support and medical logistics across its more than 4,000 square mile area of responsibility.
May 15, 2024 - What does it take to win in the complex Indo-Pacific region? Spanning over 4,000 miles and consisting mostly of the air and maritime domain, as well as densely populated land masses, the Indo-Pacific creates logistical...

Enhancing communication capabilities with the Philippine Air Force
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Quincy Brooks, 644th Combat Communication Squadron client systems technician, briefs Philippine Air Force 1st Lt. John Mangaoang, assistant director for command and control capability for the office of the assistant chief of Air Staff, about the Harris PRC-152A line of sight radio capabilities during Cope Thunder 24-1 at Basa Air Base, Philippines, Apr. 12, 2024. Cope Thunder 24-1 enables the U.S. and the Philippines to integrate capabilities and technologies to enhance interoperability at all levels. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Darnell T. Cannady)
May 15, 2024 - Bilateral exercises such as Cope Thunder 24-1 underscore the importance of allied and partner nations coming together to enhance interoperability between participating forces. One key aspect of this collaboration is ensuring...

U.S. Navy Destroyer Conducts Freedom of Navigation Operation in the South China Sea
240510-N-IM467-1007
SOUTH CHINA SEA (May 10, 2024) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Halsey (DDG-97) conducts routine underway operations in the South China Sea, May 10, 2024. Halsey is forward-deployed and assigned to Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15, the Navy’s largest DESRON and the U.S. 7th Fleet’s principal surface force. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ismael Martinez)
May 15, 2024 - On May 10, USS Halsey (DDG 97) asserted navigational rights and freedoms in the South China Sea near the Paracel Islands, consistent with international law...

Statement from NSC Spokesperson Adrienne Watson on the U.S.-PRC Talks on AI Risk and Safety
Graphic intended for use as a placeholder for Statements and Press Releases without accompanying imagery.
May 14, 2024 - Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Technology and National Security Tarun Chhabra and Department of State Acting Special Envoy for Critical and Emerging Technologies Seth Center will lead an...

U.S. Army provides legal training to Papua New Guinea Defence Force officers
(Left to right) U.S. Army Capt. Matthew Lillard, national security law attorney, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, U.S. Air Force Maj. Gabriel Bush, deputy staff judge advocate, Andersen AFB, Guam, and Maj. Christopher Niemiec, international operations officer, Defense Institute of International Legal Studies pose for a photo with Papua New Guinea Defence Force officers April 6, 2024, Tumon, Guam, during Defense Institute of International Legal Studies training. The three-day training session covered a wide range of topics crucial to the legal aspects of detainee operations, law of armed conflict, and legal considerations in conflict zones to four PNGDF officers re-introducing aircraft to their air wing. (Courtesy)
May 14, 2024 - A U.S. Army national security law attorney conducted Defense Institute of International Legal Studies training with Papua New Guinea Defence Force officers in an effort to enhance their legal expertise April 4, 2024, in...