Maintaining Refueling Proficiency:

The Air Force had made air refueling certification training part of its regular mission planning in Southwest Asia to ensure it has C-17 airlift crews who can transport wounded troops more quickly to medical help outside SWA, sometimes directly to the US. Maintaining air refueling skills requires practice, and having to land to refuel carves a huge chunk of time out of critical medical evacuation flights. Initially, air expeditionary force rotations tried to conduct the training on an ad hoc basis, reports SSgt. Jasmine Reif, but that proved too haphazard, producing only one in 25 opportunities to train. The scheduled practice sessions enable the C-17 crews to have the necessary sustained contact with a tanker to provide refueling certification, and no fuel has to flow between aircraft, keeping the tankers full to fulfill operational needs.