Refueling the Refuelers

KC-135 crews from the 100th Air Refueling Wing at RAF Mildenhall, England, got real close to Air Force Special Operations Command’s new CV-22 Ospreys on their first overseas deployment, but not to refuel them. Instead, the 100th ARW crews provided aerial refueling to Mildenhall 352nd Special Operations Group MC-130s that, in turn, refueled the Ospreys, which were supporting US Africa Command’s recent Exercise Flintlock in the Trans-Sahara region. According to Lt. Col. Bruce McNaughton, 100th ARW director of staff and aircraft commander on one of the KC-135s, the probe and drogue system employed by the KC-135s isn’t “designed to operate at lower speeds,” so they’re used primarily to refuel Navy jets. The 100th ARW crew members met with the MC-130 and CV-22 pilots at Lajes Field, Azores, to plan the mission because they were concerned about where the Ospreys would be during the refueling process since it would be their first contact with the new aircraft. Co-pilot 1st Lt. Jeff Lascurain, said, “It’s always cool to see a new type of aircraft on your wing,” saying the Ospreys flew about a mile off the tanker’s left wing. McNaughton said it was the luck of the draw that turned a weekly Lajes Field run into a CV-22 mission, adding, “It was a hoot being part of it.” (Mildenhall report by Karen Abeyasekere)