Tale of Two Tankers

An Air Force KC-135 and Royal Air Force L-1011 TriStar tanker took off from RAF Mildenhall, England, in a close interval while practicing formation refueling over the North Sea. This type of training came in response to lessons learned during NATO’s air campaign over Libya last year, said Mildenhall officials in an Aug. 21 release. Poorly integrated multinational refueling efforts during the Libya operation used vast tracts of airspace, causing congestion for NATO aircraft en route to target or returning to base, they said. “Instead of using three tankers and taking up 9,000 feet, we could use three tankers and take up about half that amount of airspace” in future air campaigns as a result of this combined training, said Capt. Mark Berthelotte of Mildenhall’s 351st Air Refueling Squadron. These training sorties, held Aug. 16 and Aug. 17, are part of Mildenhall’s ongoing cooperation with NATO tankers units. (Mildenhall report by SSgt. Austin May)