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Fairchild AFB tankers refuel Marine aircraft

A U.S. Marine Corps F/A-18C Hornet from Marine Aircraft Group 31, South Carolina, gets refueled by a KC-135 Stratotanker

A KC-135 Stratotanker from Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., refuels a Marine Corps F/A-18C Hornet from Marine Aircraft Group 31 while flying over Georgia, Aug. 27, 2019. The refueling shows the strength of the joint partnership between the two branches, which enables Rapid Global Mobility for the United States. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Kiaundra Miller)


A KC-135 Stratotanker and Airmen from the 384th Air Refueling Squadron at Fairchild Air Force Base, performed aerial refueling with two F/A-18C Hornets from the Marine Aircraft Group 31 while flying over Georgia, Aug. 27.

The refueling showcased the importance of partnerships, as the Air Force and the Marine Corps further trained their capability to work as a team.

“(Air refueling) allows us to leverage each other’s capabilities to get us to the fight and to stay in the fight,” said Marine Corps Capt. Matthew Hamtak, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 251 assistant operations officer.

Joint partnerships are especially important to the military because it allows each branch to lean on one another for support in accomplishing the mission.

“Joint partnerships are what makes mission accomplishments possible,” said Air Force Capt. Jonathon O’Neill, 384th ARS aircraft commander. “No one service can act on [their] own.”

Joint service experiences are developed through missions such as this. Those experiences in turn allow them to efficiently and quickly perform air refueling from either the KC-135, or the KC-10 Extender in the future with more time to focus on their mission.

“The Air Force has pretty valuable and important resources, especially in regards to air refueling,” Hamtak said. “I mean you have KC-135’s and KC-10’s; you have the ability to [refuel] at higher altitudes and faster speeds.”

Air refueling is an essential tool in war operations; with the fuel that KC-135’s bring, each branch of the U.S. military are prepared to respond to an incident at any time in any location. Joint partnerships between Airmen and Marines allows each branch to train in a joint environment and adapt to the different ways each branch performs.

“To be able to reach out jointly and fairly quickly, having the ability to coordinate with each other and get each other to the same place, at the same time and location, across the country is pretty awesome,” Hamtak said. “I know air refueling is needed globally, and to be able to reach that benefit locally in order to go global is pretty awesome.”

The air refueling between the two branches shows the versatility of the KC-135.

“We provide the air refueling component to train Marine aviators to be competent and qualified in air refueling procedures,” O’Neill said. “It also gives us an opportunity to go to a different field, allowing us to gain a different level of proficiency and familiarity with going to different locations across the country.”

Fairchild AFB is home to the largest fleet of tanker aircraft in the world and provides aircraft with crucial and provides the U.S. military and its allies with support to reach all corners of the globe and efficiently fight their mission.


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