AFSOC Gains Valuable Training from Fairchild Tankers

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Ryan Gomez
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Team Fairchild Airmen from the 97th Air Refueling Squadron conducted air refueling training in support of Air Force Special Operations Command’s 1st Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field.

Fairchild KC-135 Stratotankers globally support many mission types as Air Mobility Command’s premiere air refueling wing and has put the recently reactivated 97th ARS to work training with pilots and aircrew with the 1st SOW that undertake dangerous flying missions.

“[If we’re] going to a deployed location where we can’t land because the landing or drop zone is under fire, and we’re low on gas, we rely on a tanker to be above us,” said Capt. Austin Cornay, 15th Special Operations Squadron MC-130H Combat Talon II pilot. “The KC-135 helps us continue to do our everyday mission, so it’s huge for us to know we have the capability to continue fighting the good fight that we do.”

The AC-130 and MC-130 airframes are highly reliable and versatile aircraft that serve as workhorses for moving cargo, equipment and troops when and wherever needed. The KC-135 is far larger, heavier and faster than the C-130, which requires special training to be able to successfully refuel midair.

“They operate differently than we do here, especially being AFSOC,” said Capt. Elias Barry, 97th ARS KC-135 pilot. “They have special procedures for the C-130 that we’re not used to. We have to slow [the KC-135] down, roll our flaps down, and they have a different meet-up point so that was really important for our training.”

The needs of a deployed environment may change quickly, so allowing KC-135 Airmen to train with a wide selection of aircraft to refuel helps strengthen partnerships between units of all mission types, improving confidence and coordination in the field.

“Communication is key during air refueling,” Cornay said. “If we are unable to use our radios, we rely on alternate means of communication to get gas, and that’s what we practiced with the KC-135.”

KC-135 Airmen provide air refueling support regardless of the date, time or location, which can be crucial to special operations aircrews who may find themselves in a hazardous situation; the support of a nearby KC-135 can make all the difference.

“It’s very helpful working with different commands,” Barry said. “We learn different things from each other, get a lot of good feedback and build up the Air Force to work together across commands.”

Whether it’s at home, across the country or on the other side of the world, refueling training enables greater understanding and coordination between squadrons, builds a modern mobility Air Force and ensures the delivery of strength and hope now and in the future.