Air-to-air refueling training is conducted on a regular basis to keep aircrews current at all times. Photo: HAW / Henrik Gebhardt
To meet the requirements of the twelve Strategic Airlift Capability nations to carry out long-range missions all around the world, Heavy Airlift Wing aircrews regularly practice air-to-air refueling. The air-to-air refueling training is facilitated through bilateral agreements in order to provide the pilots opportunities to conduct the vital currency training.
Air-to-air refueling is an art that requires a lot of concentration and teamwork between both the tanker aircraft as well as for the aircraft that takes on the fuel. The receiving aircraft have to navigate to a position close enough to the tanker, then the boom operator of the tanker aircraft do the final detail work to connect the boom to the receiving aircraft.
The HAW cooperates closely with air-to-air refueling assets stationed in Europe. At this training mission it was the U.S. 100th Air Refueling Wing (ARW), stationed at RAF Mildenhall Air Base in Great Britain that supported the HAW, while at the same time giving the 100th ARW valuable experience from training with a C-17. The 100th ARW operates the Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker. The KC-135 was the first jet powered air refueling platform of the U.S. Air Force and entered service 1957.
About the Strategic Airlift Capability
Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC), established in 2008, is a multinational program that provides its 12 member nations with assured access to military airlift capability by owning and operating three Boeing C-17A Globemaster III long-range cargo aircraft.
SAC is based at the Hungarian Defense Forces (HDF) Pápa Air Base, Hungary.
The SAC Nations are the NATO members Hungary (program host nation), Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and the United States and NATO Partnership for Peace nations Finland and Sweden. Each participating nation owns a share of the available flight hours of the SAC C-17As to serve the needs of their national defense, NATO, EU or UN commitments and humanitarian relief efforts.
SAC consists of the 12-nation Heavy Airlift Wing (HAW) and the NATO Airlift Management Programme Office (NAM PO). The HAW is the operational unit and the NAM PO, an integral part of the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA), is the acquisition and sustainment authority of the SAC C-17A weapon system.
NAM PO contracts with the U.S. Government, via Foreign Military Sales (FMS) Agreements with the USAF, for SAC C-17 Technical and intergrated Product Support, Flight Crew Training and operational data services. The USAF in turn sub-contracts many of these services to Industry; notably Boeing and Pratt & Whitney.