ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES –
U.S. Air Force KC-10 Extender aircraft, typically used in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility for aerial refueling missions, recently flexed to streamline a major movement of cargo, personnel and F-15E Strike Eagle aircraft across the theater.
Approximately half of the 494th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron forward deployed to ADAB from an undisclosed location in April in order to “support the Resolute Support mission set and improve the defensive posture in the Arabian Peninsula, as well as to highlight the 494th’s ability to project power forward into the AOR utilizing the agile combat employment concept,” explained U.S. Air Force Capt. Trey Pollard, F-15E fighter weapons systems officer, 494 EFS.
The 494th hit the ground running at ADAB and spent 66 days supporting the CENTCOM Air Tasking Order.
“We flew missions as required to meet the Combined Forces Air Component Commander’s intent, including covering routine vulnerability periods, providing alert capability, and other flexible mission sets as necessary,” Pollard said.
During these missions, KC-10s from the 908th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron frequently provided aerial refueling support to the fighter squadron, so the two units enjoyed a close partnership.
“We have worked with the F-15s out of ADAB for years,” explained Maj. Austin Bentley, operations officer, 908 EARS.
“We support dragging the fighters stationed at ADAB into country and remain with them as a dedicated tanker, or we fly into country and support specific tanker contracts with the F-15s from other bases to ensure they can accomplish their mission without divert,” Bentley said.
When the fighter squadron was needed back home, the 908th was happy to help their teammates get back as easily as possible.
“Without the KC-10 to help, they were hard pressed to make the trip all in one go,” Bentley explained. “They would have had to load the cargo and passengers on another grey tail to get the equipment and maintainers and ground personnel back, and would need a KC-135, or even two, to get enough gas to the fighters to make the trip.”
By using the KC-10, all of those movements were consolidated into one.
“The mission was a gratifying experience because we were able to showcase the diverse and flexible mission set that only a KC-10 can do,” said Capt. Jeremy Delzer, 908 EARS, who acted as the aircraft commander for the successful mass transport mission.
In one trip, the KC-10 moved passengers, cargo, and refueled seven F-15Es all the way to their final destination.
“It was really rewarding to be able to assist in, and streamline the redeployment of fellow Airmen and get them back to their home base after being separated from the rest of their squadron for months,” Delzer concluded.