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Powering partnership: Singapore tankers boost coalition forces

A Republic of Singapore Air Force KC-135R

A Republic of Singapore Air Force KC-135R sits on the flightline at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, May 23, 2017. RSAF has repeatedly deployed its KC-135Rs in support of the coalition since 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Andrew Moseley)

A Republic of Singapore Air Force aircraft refuels a Coalition aircraft above Southwest Asia. (Courtesy photo from Republic of Singapore Air Force)

A Republic of Singapore Air Force KC-135R refuels a coalition aircraft above Southwest Asia. (Courtesy photo/Republic of Singapore Air Force)

AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar (AFNS) -- This year alone, coalition air refuelers have already flown more than 5,000 separate in-flight refueling sorties, supplying more than 28,000 aircraft with fuel while providing air support to Operation Inherent Resolve.

The Republic of Singapore Air Force recently completed a three month deployment in which an RSAF KC-135R contributed to the coalition's ability to support increased aerial refueling demands during the summer months, including the fights for Mosul, Iraq and Raqqah, Syria.

Despite its small fleet of four air refuelers, Singapore has repeatedly deployed its KC-135Rs in support of coalition efforts since 2015. Most recently, an RSAF KC-135R Stratotanker and support team joined dozens of U.S. refuelers at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, from May to August, marking the RSAF’s third annual deployment.

As coalition partners, their mission is to integrate and synchronize with in-flight refueling missions, supplying fuel to U.S. and coalition aircraft in the U.S. Air Forces Central area of responsibility.

"This was a tremendous opportunity for us to put our skills to use in support of the coalition," said an RSAF KC-135R pilot who participated in the 2017 deployment. "We are happy that we can work together with the U.S. Air Force and other partner nations in this joint fight against ISIS and threats in the region."

Throughout its deployment, the RSAF performed more than 50 missions in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, refueling an average of four to six aircraft per sortie.

"Singapore is a small country, but we recognize the importance of contributing to this global cause,” said the RSAF contingent commander. “I am glad that we are able to contribute meaningfully to the Operation Inherent Resolve campaign. Our partnership with the United States and coalition nations is strong and will strengthen further as we improve our interoperability and contribute to each other’s mission success."

"We appreciate the contributions of coalition partners like Singapore and what they bring to the fight,” said Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, the Air Forces Central Command commander and Combined Forces Air Component Commander. “Singapore’s KC-135R helped fuel the fight and strengthen the blows we directed at ISIS over this summer. I am thankful for their continued commitment to support the fight to defeat a global threat like ISIS and bring stability to the region.”

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