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NEWS | Nov. 1, 2010

Jordanian, American fighters refuel in the skies above Jordan

By Tech. Sgt. Chyenne A. Adams , U.S. Air Forces Central Command Public Affairs

A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon from the 77th Fighter Squadron, Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., receives fuel from a KC-10 Extender from the 2nd Air Refueling Squadron, Joint Base McGuire, N.J., as part of The Falcon Air Meet 2010 near Azraq Air Base, Jordan, Oct. 20, 2010. The purpose of The Falcon Air Meet is to improve international military relations and joint air operations. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Staff Sgt. Eric Harris)

Jordan (Oct. 21, 2010) – Four Royal Jordanian Air Force F-16 pilots received invaluable training Oct. 20 as they went through aerial refueling beside four of their American brethren.

A KC-10 aircraft and crew out of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. refueled eight F-16s in the skies over Jordan as part of Falcon Air Meet 2010 - a two-week exercise bringing military members from various countries together to share doctrine and procedures, strengthen relationships, and improve regional security.

Teams from four nations - Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, and the United States - are participating in the exercise and competition. Four F-16’s and pilots from the U.S. Air Force and four F-16’s and pilots from the Jordanian Royal Air Force participated in the aerial refueling exercise.

“The Jordanian pilots are qualified for aerial refueling, but don’t generally get to practice that operation because they don’t have a tanker in the fleet,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Jimmy Kolzow, a KC-10 mission commander. “Americans are as good as we are (at aerial refueling) because we have an exceptional support community between fighters and tankers, and we practice on a regular basis. It’s wonderful to be able to provide that experience and training to our Jordanian counterparts and cementing our relationship with these fellow pilots and crews.”

All the personnel involved in the operation met a few days prior to the event to lay out the ground work for the refueling plan.

“The entire aerial refueling operation went very smoothly,” Kolzow said. “You could tell that was because all the participants really put time and effort into doing their homework and learning the overall game-plan and procedures ahead of time.”

During this particular mission, the plane carried approximately 140,000 pounds of fuel onboard and each aircraft took on between 1,500 and 2,000 pounds of fuel.

“The tricky part is the connection,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Steven Porter, a KC-10 boom operator. “A lot depends on the receiver and how well they fly into the pattern - as long as they stay straight and the weather is on our side, we can make a good connection. After that, the computer takes over and it’s an amazingly efficient process.”

Master Sgt. Lynn Thatcher, a KC-10 evaluator boom operator, was sitting in the rear of the aircraft watching his receiver aircraft through a wide window afforded the boom operator. He was “really impressed” with how well the Jordanian pilots followed procedures and moved through the operation.

The KC-10 Extender is an advanced tanker with the primary mission of aerial refueling, built to provide increased global mobility for U.S. Armed Forces and allied countries.

That increased mobility has led members of this KC-10 crew to places they never quite imagined - currently working out of Marka Civil Airport, Jordan, and flying a 25-mile by 20-mile square in the skies over the eastern part of Amman - the countries’ capital city, near the borders of Iraq and Saudi Arabia, according to U.S. Air Force Capt. Steve Sager, KC-10 aircraft commander.

In addition to the three main DC-10 wing fuel tanks, the KC-10 has three large fuel tanks under the cargo floor, one under the forward lower cargo compartment, one in the center wing area and one under the rear compartment. Combined, the capacities of the six tanks carry more than 356,000 pounds of fuel - almost twice as much as the KC-135 Stratotanker.

Using either an advanced aerial refueling boom, or a hose and drogue centerline refueling system, the KC-10 can refuel a wide variety of U.S. and allied military aircraft.

The KC-10’s boom operator controls refueling operations through a digital, fly-by wire system. The Automatic Load Alleviation System and Independent Disconnect System greatly enhance safety and facilitate air refueling.