The 92nd Air Refueling Squadron completes certification even during Bamboo Eagle 24-1

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Haiden Morris
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. - - Air refueling professionals assigned to the 92nd Air Refueling Squadron participated in exercise Bamboo Eagle 24-1 as their certification event for the Air Force Force Generation model, Jan. 26- Feb. 3, 2024.

Bamboo Eagle 24-1 was the U.S. Air Force Warfare Center’s first iteration of the large-scale Joint Force exercise and comprised the U.S. Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy and Army, as well as counterparts from the Royal Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force.

The 92nd Air Refueling Wing served as lead tanker wing for the exercise, providing eight KC-135 Stratotankers, and oversaw the mission planning and operations for ten total KC-135s, four KC-46 Pegasuses, and two KC-10 Extenders.

“Bamboo eagle is important because it demonstrates the capability of the Department of Defense to deploy rapidly, communicate and operate [during] a large-scale exercise,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Christopher Perkins, lead tanker planner for Bamboo Eagle 24-1. “[It demonstrates] conducting missions with combined arms on short notice over a massive area anywhere in the world.”

The 93rd and 97th Air Refueling Squadrons, the 92nd Logistics Readiness Squadron and the 92nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron also played key roles in the exercise.

“We've managed to hot pit our tankers at out bases with minimal amounts of manning,” said Capt. Ethan Hoff, a mission pilot assigned to the 92nd ARS. “The multi-capable Airman teams are getting crews fed, fueled, and back in the fight within a matter of hours.”

Members of the 92nd LRS and the 92nd AMXS acted as the MCA teams, providing assistance to tanker drop-in locations. 

“We will have maintainers and Petroleum, Oil and Lubricants troops [who] are going to be doing jobs that are normally not in their purview, but they are going to be executing in a multi-cable Airman capacity,” Perkins said before the exercise.

The exercise consisted of the tanker team performing about 36 endurance missions with three-man crews leaving Travis AFB to refuel aircraft, land at a tanker drop-in location to undergo a hot pit, then take off again to ensure the most air refueling support possible. 

“[There are] two different types of endurance missions: one where we stress the jet, and then one where we stress the crew,” explained Perkins. “We might stress both at the same time. A three-man team normally is authorized 16 hours for their duty period but what we're doing in this exercise, we are pushing 20 hours almost every single sortie.” 

“We’re testing new strategies that's bringing gas closer to the fight and in the fight longer,” said Hoff.  “[The training] is making the tanker way more agile and our receivers much more lethal.”

The tanker teams were given tools to help them manage and assess their fatigue levels. This process was designed to determine safe levels for flying endurance missions.

“[We’ve provided] Garmin watches and Oura rings that we use to give our aircrews the opportunity to honestly look at themselves and [assess] their fatigue throughout the day,” said Perkins. “We are trusting our aircrews to make smart decisions and utilize different techniques … whatever they need to do to execute [the mission], they are given the leeway to do so.” 

The tankers refueled F-22 Raptors, F-35A Lightning IIs, F-35B Lightning IIs, F-15E Strike Eagles, F-15C Eagles, F-15EX Eagle IIs and more. 

“Pretty much you name it, we’re refueling it,” said Perkins. “Whenever that gas is needed, if the fighters are there, and they are ready to push, the tanker is there to facilitate.”

“A few years ago we set the expectation that crews are going to be able to land the aircraft, hop pit the jet themselves, and get back airborne to minimize that time on the ground,” Perkins added. “If we can utilize any field anywhere in the world, drop in … refuel [ourselves] and get back airborne, we are accomplishing our objective of making sure gas is in the air when we need it.”