Tanker Unit Hits Communications Milestone

In addition to being one of the busiest aerial refueling squadrons operating over Afghanistan, the airmen of the 22nd Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron now have another milestone under their belt. They recently reached 25,000 hours of carrying the Roll-On Beyond Line-of-Sight Enhancement, or ROBE, data link system in combat in their KC-135s, according to officials with the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing at the Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan, the tanker unit’s operating location. “This connectivity is an extension of our critical air capabilities, extending into the deep valleys and mountainous terrain blanketing our forces, thus providing a lifeline to troops who need a data link in times of need,” said Col. Brian Newberry, 376th Expeditionary Operations Group commander. The squadron’s KC-135s have carried ROBE in the theater since 2008, according to the wing’s May 23 release. Newberry said the 22nd EARS is the only ROBE-equipped unit in theater. (Manas report by Capt. Martha L. Petersante)