AF team fuels aerial fight to defeat ISIS

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Michael Battles
  • Air Forces Central Command
Comprised of active-duty, Guard and Reserve aircrew service members, the men and women of the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron help project combat power by providing agile, effective air refueling in line with the objectives of the Combined Forces Air Component Command and Combined Joint Special Operations Air Component.

According to Lt. Col. Joseph Carr, 340th EARS director of operations, the mission of the KC-135 Stratotanker squadron is to enable its receiver’s capabilities to extend their air-to-air refueling missions and prolong their ability to provide air superiority.

Air-to-Air Refueling Mission

“Air-to-air refueling extends joint and coalition receivers’ on-station loiter ability, expanding the time of opportunity to observe, target and destroy enemy assets or provide overwatch protection of our ground forces,” Carr said.

Each day, the 340th EARS provides nearly two-thirds of all U.S. Central Command air-to-air refueling for joint, coalition and NATO partners, he said.

During a deployment, aircrews flying KC-135 missions can expect to refuel a variety of aircraft ranging from bombers, reconnaissance, fighters and cargo, Carr said.

Many Customers

“We are matched up with so many different receivers from all of the different functions of the U.S. military and international,” said Lt. Col. Sarah Micklo, 340th EARS pilot. “It’s always an adventure; we get heavy aircraft, fighter aircraft, props and jets and it’s just really interesting to be able to communicate and interact with those different aircraft.”

In August 2017, the 340th EARS supported a total offload of 36.5 million pounds of fuel to 3,180 aircraft. The squadron accomplished roughly 150 missions each month, and nearly 1,800 within the last year.

“By having the most amount of gas in the air each day allows our aircraft and partners the flexibility to perform their operations and missions more effectively,” Micklo said.

Experienced Squadron

In the last 10 years, Carr said, the squadron has contributed air refueling capabilities in several major operations including operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, Freedom Sentinel and Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa.

“Without a doubt, the U.S. Central Command mission would not happen without the efforts of the men and women of the 340th EARS,” he said. “Our Airmen are unquestionably mission oriented, hardworking, dedicated and nonstop focused. The tanker mission runs 24/7 with no relief.”

The squadron, originally constituted as the 340th Fighter Squadron on Sept. 24, 1942, has undergone several consolidations, deactivations and name changes. On Jan. 25, 2002, the squadron was redesignated as the 340th EARS.

An F-22 Raptor departs after receiving fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron during a mission in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, Aug. 29, 2017. The F-22 is a component of the Global Strike Task Force, supporting U.S. and coalition forces working to liberate territory and people under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Battles)