Tag Archives: U.S. Air Force

The story of the KC-135 tankers that saved another KC-135 flying for 13.5 hours in support of a CAS mission over Afghanistan

After being unexpectedly requested to refuel a CAS (Close Air Support) aircraft targeting a high-level enemy leader, a KC-135 found itself “below bingo.”

Although they usually offload fuel to other aircraft, aerial refuelers may have to take gas from other tankers to extend their “on station time” or to be able to return to their destination, as happened some months ago to a U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker over Afghanistan.

The U.S. tanker was in fact involved to a really long mission, so much so it had to be refueled by other KC-135s three times.

According to Lt. Steve Hartig, 350th Air Refueling Squadron pilot, the original task was to refuel two tactical jets flying in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Nothing special then, besides an initial contact with another KC-135 to get some fuel and extend the mission.

“This was my first deployment as a receiver-qualified pilot,” said Capt. Kirk Evans, 384th ARS pilot in a USAF release. “Receiving fuel from a tanker [at a high altitude was pretty challenging]. The air is thinner, and I had less control authority over the aircraft because the engines are less responsive.”

After completing the operation, the Stratotanker returned to its racetrack and continue its refueling mission.

In accordance with the original task, it refueled two aircraft but before heading back to its home base, it got a radio call to relocate and potentially refuel a CAS aircraft needing assistance because an alert refueling plane would not make it in time.

The receiver requested assistance and the KC-135 rushed to help. But the AAR (Air-to-Air Refueling) operation was not previously planned and the tactical scenario as well as the type of aircraft made for an “unorthodox situation.”

The two aircraft made contact far below the surrounding peaks and in a descent, to compensate for the receiver’s slower speed (read below for more about the CAS aircraft.)

To make things more complicated, the receiving crew informed the Stratotanker that they needed 18,000 pounds of fuel whereas the KC-135 had only 7,000 pounds before going “below bingo”, that is to say, below the fuel state required to return home.

Still, the tanker offloaded the requested amount of fuel to the receiver so that it could successfully continue its mission: going after a high-level enemy leader on the ground.

Now, the KC-135 was 12,000 pounds “below bingo.”

Unable to return home the Stratotanker aircrew started contemplating other options, the first of those was diverting to a nearby airfield. There were two airbases within their reach: one was pretty unsafe, as it was getting attacked frequently, whereas the other one was under a thunderstorm.

“We were authorized to divert to a closer air base when we were notified there happened to be another tanker on their way that had a little extra gas,” said Evans.

Hence, the KC-135s headed towards each other for a second “buddy refueling” operation: the “below bingo” KC-135 received enough gas to meet the alert Stratotanker halfway, so it didn’t need to divert.

After a third “buddy refuel,” the Stratotanker was eventually able to return back to its deployment base after 13 and half hours!

The efforts of the KC-135 crew paid off, enabling two different missions, the second performed by the CAS aircraft that was able to “terminate” a high-level enemy leader.

Note: Although the U.S. Air Force did not disclose the type of receiver involved in the CAS mission, based on the “speed difference” and altitude, it is safe to assume it was an AC-130 gunship.

kc-135-below-bingo-2

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

Salva

The F-4 Phantom II, in the QF-4 Aerial Target variant, performs final display before retiring from USAF

After more than 50 years of service, the F-4 Phantom II is about to be retired by the U.S. Air Force.

The final F-4 Phantom appearance at an airshow while in USAF service occurred during Nellis Air Force Base’s Aviation Nation air show, on Nov. 12 and 13.

QF-4E 74-1638, piloted by Lt. Col. Ron “Elvis” King and Jim Harkins, pilots from Holloman AFB, New Mexico, flew at the show on both days, making several passes in afterburner to the delight of more than 295,000 spectators from around the world.

The photographs in this post were taken by our reader Ken Lilly at Nellis AFB during Aviation Nation 2016.

final-show-5

“[The QF-4 retiring] is bittersweet,” said King, 82nd Aerial Target Squadron Detachment 1 commander in a U.S. Air Force release. “It’s been a phenomenal workhorse for our country for years. When the military revitalized the aircraft after retiring them in 1997, it gave them a second lease on life.”

The aircraft have flown as unmanned aerial targets for several DoD and foreign military sales customers testing next generation weapons.

“Just as service members come and go in their military careers, unfortunately so do aircraft,” said Harkins. “It’s getting harder and harder to do the job that it’s supposed to do [based on new technology].

“It’s too old to go as high and as fast or as many [gravitational forces] as the customers need it to so they can proper test equipment,” he added.

Air Combat Command declared initial operational capability for its replacement, the QF-16 full-scale aerial target, that has been flying with the 82nd ATRS, based at Tyndall AFB, Florida, since September 2014,, on Sept. 23: therefore the QF-4 flown by the 82nd ATRS Det. 1 at Holloman AFB is being retired on Dec. 21.

Whilst unmanned operations ended in September, the last unmanned mission in a threat representative configuration was flown on Aug. 17, 2016, “against” an F-35 Lightning II.

During that sortie, the Vietnam-era remotely piloted aircraft was shot at by the F-35 Lightning II with two AIM-120 AMRAAMs (advanced medium range air-to-air missiles). However, the aircraft was not destroyed in the test (read more about the final sortie “against” two AIM-120Cs fired by a Joint Strike Fighter here.)

A QF-4 Aerial Target lands on the flight line at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., during the Aviation Nation air show on Nov. 11, 2016. The QF-4 was piloted by Lt. Col. Ron King, 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron Detachment 1 commander, at Holloman AFB, New Mexico. (U.S. Air Force photo by A1C Kevin Tanenbaum/Released)

A QF-4 Aerial Target lands on the flight line at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., during the Aviation Nation air show on Nov. 11, 2016. The QF-4 was piloted by Lt. Col. Ron King, 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron Detachment 1 commander, at Holloman AFB, New Mexico. (U.S. Air Force photo by A1C Kevin Tanenbaum/Released)

Interestingly,  Oct. 25 two USAF McDonnell Douglas QF-4E Phantom II’s made an appearance through the famous “Star Wars Canyon” (Jedi Transition) in Death Valley, CA, during in transit from NAS Point Mugu, CA to Hill AFB, UT.

The aircraft, piloted by Lt. Col. Ron “Elvis” King and by Lt. Col. (Ret) Jim “WAM” Harkins, made a couple of aggressive passes through the canyon before continuing their journey to Hill.

The F-4 is one of the most successful multi-role fighter aircraft ever produced. Over 5,000 Phantoms of various models were built and served in combat with a variety of Air Forces around the world. In the U.S., the F-4 served with the US Navy beginning in 1961, followed by the USMC and the USAF.

The aircraft remained in service with the USAF through 1996 when it was retired.

Many Phantoms were converted to service as manned and unmanned targets for weapons training with various USAF and DoD programs, including the White Sands Missile Range.

But the final chapter in a long and successful career in the U.S. Air Force is approaching. At least, other air arms around the world still operate the mighty Phantom, including the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force, that has also used the F-4E in the Air War in Syria; the Turkish Air Force, whose F-4s have had a role in the coup attempt last July; South Korea’s ROKAF (Republic of Korea Air Force), that has also employed the Phantoms to stage Elephant Walks “against” the North; and the Hellenic Air Force.

final-show-11

Image credit: Ken Lilly unless otherwise specified.

 

Salva

This photo of an A-10 sporting hundreds of bomb markings proves the Warthog has been pretty active fighting Daesh!

A-10 Thunderbolts from 124th Fighter Wing have just returned from deployment in support of Operation Inherent Resolve: they brought back one aircraft with an impressive amount of bomb markings.

Since Nov. 17, 2014 when the U.S. Air Force moved a squadron-sized element of A-10C Thunderbolt aircraft from Bagram, Afghanistan, to Ahmed al Jaber airbase, in Kuwait, to join the fight against ISIS, the Hog (from various USAF units) has played an important role supporting Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR): it has carried out about one-third of the overall air strikes attacking the IS militants causing great losses and by deterring them from above using its GAU-8 Avenger a 30 mm hydraulically driven seven-barrel Gatling-type cannon and PGMs (Precision Guided Munitions).

Among the Thunderbolt units that have taken part to the air war against ISIS there is the 190th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, 124th Fighter Wing (Idaho ANG), from Gowen Field, Boise, Idaho.

The “Skullbangers” have returned home from a 6-month combat deployment in support of OIR on Oct. 24, 2016. The return of the Idaho ANG from Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, is featured in the latest issue of The Beacon, official newsletter of the 124th Fighter Wing.

Indeed, as pointed out by the team at Warthog News, a FB page (worth a like) posting tons of interesting A-10 stuff, the November 2016 issue of The Beacon includes some really interesting photographs, including the ones of an A-10 decorated with many bomb markings.

a-10-boise

Bomb and kill markings are very well-known tradition in military aviation.

In May 2016, we spotted JDAMs (Joint Direct Attack Munitions) bomb silhouettes on one of the F-22s belonging to the 95th FS from Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, after one rotation to the UAE to support Operation Inherent Resolve

Last year, in Syria, Russian Su-34s  sported red star silhouettes to mark 10 air strikes, whilst EA-18G Growlers of VAQ-137 aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt got unique kill markings, showing Electronic Attack support as well as cellular jamming missions.

a-10-kill-marks_close-up

BTW, let us know if you have an idea about the type of bombs the above A-10 bomb markings represent…

H/T Warthog News. Image credit: 124th FW

 

Salva

Salva

Salva

For the first time in 10 years a B-1 bomber conducted CAS training “in the vicinity of Australia”

A “Bone” deployed to Guam has taken part in Close Air Support training with Royal Australian Air Force near Australia for the first time in at least a decade.

On Oct. 25, a U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer assigned to the 34th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron and deployed to Guam from its homebase at Ellsworth AFB, S.D., conducted integration training with Royal Australian Air Force JTACs (joint terminal air controllers.)

Role of the JTACs, previously known as FACs (Forward Air Controllers), is to provide precision terminal attack guidance of CAS (close air support) assets from a forward position.

Indeed, their role is to act as a sort of “broker” between the commander of the troops on the ground and the pilot, working embedded on a patrol, in the vicinity of the enemy, in an armored vehicle, or from the Tactical Operations Center of a Forward Operating Base.

Through the  ROVER (Remote Operations Video Enhanced Receiver) system made available by the pods carried by several aircraft (such as the Advanced Targeting Forward Looking Infrared – ATFLIR – pod that the F-18s carry on the left side of the fuselage or the Sniper pod in case of the B-1), the JTACs are able to receive realtime footage from above on a portable terminal similar to a Playstation. Such live video streaming is used to determine whether the pilot is cueing the weapons to the correct ground target (and avoid friendly fire or collateral damage).

B-1s have already proved to be able to support ROVER Internet Protocol Network, or RIPN, project, in September 2013 when they were able to form a network through the Lancer’s Sniper pod to several ROVERs on the ground, effectively allowing them to pass digital close air support targeting coordinates or sensor points of interest to the B-1 crew.

According to the U.S. Air Force, this was the first time in at least 10 years that B-1s have conducted close air support training in the vicinity of Australia.

The B-1B is part of Pacific Air Force’s CBP (Continuous Bomber Presence) mission to Guam, where the aircraft, belonging to the 28th Bomb Wing deployed on Aug. 6, 2016 to replace the B-52 (and deter North Korea and China.)

CAS are among the most frequent missions flown by the “Bones” against ISIS during their 6-month deployment in support of Operation Inherent Resolve last year: when they returned stateside in January 2016, the B-1s had flown 490 sorties dropping 3,800 munitions on 3,700 targets.

Air War on ISIS: coalition aircraft refuel from US KC-135 over Iraq

Take a look at the most beautiful photographs shot from inside U.S. Air Force KC-135s during recent aerial refueling missions over Iraq.

50-year old KC-135 Stratotankers are acting as “force multipliers” over Iraq, refueling coalition aircraft flying in support of Operation Inherent Resolve against ISIS.

The following shots were taken during different missions flown by the aerial refuelers of the 340th EARS (Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron), a provisional U.S. Air Force units, equipped with several KC-135R/T tankers and based at Al Udeid, Qatar.

As you can see, U.S. Navy F/A-18E/F Hornets, U.S. Air Force C-17s, F-15E Strike Eagles and E-3A Sentry, as well as French Air Force Rafales were refueled during their combat missions in the last few weeks.

Two U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet fly in formation after receiving fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker over Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve Oct 17, 2016. The KC-135 provides the core aerial refueling capability for the U.S. Air Force and has excelled in this role for more than 50 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Douglas Ellis/Released)

Two U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet fly in formation after receiving fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker over Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve Oct 17, 2016. The KC-135 provides the core aerial refueling capability for the U.S. Air Force and has excelled in this role for more than 50 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Douglas Ellis/Released)

Two U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet fly in formation after receiving fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker over Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve Oct 17, 2016. The KC-135 provides the core aerial refueling capability for the U.S. Air Force and has excelled in this role for more than 50 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Douglas Ellis/Released)

Two U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet fly in formation after receiving fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker over Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve Oct 17, 2016. The KC-135 provides the core aerial refueling capability for the U.S. Air Force and has excelled in this role for more than 50 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Douglas Ellis/Released)

Two U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet fly in formation after receiving fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker over Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve Oct 17, 2016. The KC-135 provides the core aerial refueling capability for the U.S. Air Force and has excelled in this role for more than 50 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Douglas Ellis/Released)

Two U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet fly in formation after receiving fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker over Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve Oct 17, 2016. The KC-135 provides the core aerial refueling capability for the U.S. Air Force and has excelled in this role for more than 50 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Douglas Ellis/Released)

A U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet receives fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker over Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve Oct 17, 2016. The KC-135 provides the core aerial refueling capability for the U.S. Air Force and has excelled in this role for more than 50 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Douglas Ellis/Released)

A U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet receives fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker over Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve Oct 17, 2016. The KC-135 provides the core aerial refueling capability for the U.S. Air Force and has excelled in this role for more than 50 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Douglas Ellis/Released)

A U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet receives fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker over Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve Oct 17, 2016. The KC-135 provides the core aerial refueling capability for the U.S. Air Force and has excelled in this role for more than 50 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Douglas Ellis/Released)

A U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet receives fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker over Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve Oct 17, 2016. The KC-135 provides the core aerial refueling capability for the U.S. Air Force and has excelled in this role for more than 50 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Douglas Ellis/Released)

A French Air Force Rafale approaches a KC-135 Stratotanker over Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve Oct 17, 2016. The KC-135 provides the core aerial refueling capability for the U.S. Air Force and has excelled in this role for more than 50 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Douglas Ellis/Released)

A French Air Force Rafale approaches a KC-135 Stratotanker over Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve Oct 17, 2016. The KC-135 provides the core aerial refueling capability for the U.S. Air Force and has excelled in this role for more than 50 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Douglas Ellis/Released)

A French Air Force Rafale approaches a KC-135 Stratotanker over Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve Oct 17, 2016. The KC-135 provides the core aerial refueling capability for the U.S. Air Force and has excelled in this role for more than 50 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Douglas Ellis/Released)

A French Air Force Rafale approaches a KC-135 Stratotanker over Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve Oct 17, 2016. The KC-135 provides the core aerial refueling capability for the U.S. Air Force and has excelled in this role for more than 50 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Douglas Ellis/Released)

A French Air Force Rafale receives fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker over Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve Oct 17, 2016. The KC-135 provides the core aerial refueling capability for the U.S. Air Force and has excelled in this role for more than 50 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Douglas Ellis/Released)

A French Air Force Rafale receives fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker over Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve Oct 17, 2016. The KC-135 provides the core aerial refueling capability for the U.S. Air Force and has excelled in this role for more than 50 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Douglas Ellis/Released)

A U.S. Air Force F-15 Strike Eagle approaches a KC-135 Stratotanker over Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve Oct 6, 2016. The KC-135 provides the core aerial refueling capability for the U.S. Air Force and has excelled in this role for more than 50 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Douglas Ellis/Released)

A U.S. Air Force F-15 Strike Eagle approaches a KC-135 Stratotanker over Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve Oct 6, 2016. The KC-135 provides the core aerial refueling capability for the U.S. Air Force and has excelled in this role for more than 50 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Douglas Ellis/Released)

A U.S. Air Force F-15 Strike Eagle approaches a KC-135 Stratotanker over Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve Oct 6, 2016. The KC-135 provides the core aerial refueling capability for the U.S. Air Force and has excelled in this role for more than 50 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Douglas Ellis/Released)

A U.S. Air Force F-15 Strike Eagle approaches a KC-135 Stratotanker over Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve Oct 6, 2016. The KC-135 provides the core aerial refueling capability for the U.S. Air Force and has excelled in this role for more than 50 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Douglas Ellis/Released)

A pilot from the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron prepares to take off in a KC-135 Stratotanker in support of an Operation Inherent Resolve mission over Iraq Oct 6, 2016. The KC-135 provides the core aerial refueling capability for the U.S. Air Force and has excelled in this role for more than 50 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Douglas Ellis/Released)

A pilot from the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron prepares to take off in a KC-135 Stratotanker in support of an Operation Inherent Resolve mission over Iraq Oct 6, 2016. The KC-135 provides the core aerial refueling capability for the U.S. Air Force and has excelled in this role for more than 50 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Douglas Ellis/Released)

A pilot from the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron prepares to take off in a KC-135 Stratotanker in support of an Operation Inherent Resolve mission over Iraq Oct 6, 2016. The KC-135 provides the core aerial refueling capability for the U.S. Air Force and has excelled in this role for more than 50 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Douglas Ellis/Released)

A pilot from the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron prepares to take off in a KC-135 Stratotanker in support of an Operation Inherent Resolve mission over Iraq Oct 6, 2016. The KC-135 provides the core aerial refueling capability for the U.S. Air Force and has excelled in this role for more than 50 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Douglas Ellis/Released)

A U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker boom operator, awaits his receivers for fuel over Iraq Sept. 28, 2016. Airmen from the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron refueled U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets over Iraq in support of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve. The U.S. and more than 60 coalition partners work together to eliminate Daesh and the threat they pose to Iraq and Syria. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Larry E. Reid Jr., Released)

A U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker boom operator, awaits his receivers for fuel over Iraq Sept. 28, 2016. Airmen from the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron refueled U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets over Iraq in support of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve. The U.S. and more than 60 coalition partners work together to eliminate Daesh and the threat they pose to Iraq and Syria.
(U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Larry E. Reid Jr., Released)

A U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet flies off the wing of a KC-135 Stratotanker over Iraq after refuel Sept. 28, 2016. Airmen from the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron refueled U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets over Iraq in support of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve. The U.S. and more than 60 coalition partners work together to eliminate Daesh and the threat they pose to Iraq and Syria. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Larry E. Reid Jr., Released)

A U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet flies off the wing of a KC-135 Stratotanker over Iraq after refuel Sept. 28, 2016. Airmen from the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron refueled U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets over Iraq in support of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve. The U.S. and more than 60 coalition partners work together to eliminate Daesh and the threat they pose to Iraq and Syria.
(U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Larry E. Reid Jr., Released)

A U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet receives fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker over Iraq Sept. 28, 2016. Airmen from the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron refueled U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets over Iraq in support of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve. The U.S. and more than 60 coalition partners work together to eliminate Daesh and the threat they pose to Iraq and Syria. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Larry E. Reid Jr., Released)

A U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet receives fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker over Iraq Sept. 28, 2016. Airmen from the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron refueled U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets over Iraq in support of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve. The U.S. and more than 60 coalition partners work together to eliminate Daesh and the threat they pose to Iraq and Syria.
(U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Larry E. Reid Jr., Released)

A U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet receives fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker over Iraq Sept. 28, 2016. Airmen from the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron refueled U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets over Iraq in support of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve. The U.S. and more than 60 coalition partners work together to eliminate Daesh and the threat they pose to Iraq and Syria. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Larry E. Reid Jr., Released)

A U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet receives fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker over Iraq Sept. 28, 2016. Airmen from the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron refueled U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets over Iraq in support of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve. The U.S. and more than 60 coalition partners work together to eliminate Daesh and the threat they pose to Iraq and Syria.
(U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Larry E. Reid Jr., Released)

A U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet receives fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker over Iraq Sept. 28, 2016. Airmen from the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron refueled U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets over Iraq in support of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve. The U.S. and more than 60 coalition partners work together to eliminate Daesh and the threat they pose to Iraq and Syria. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Larry E. Reid Jr., Released)

A U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet receives fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker over Iraq Sept. 28, 2016. Airmen from the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron refueled U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets over Iraq in support of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve. The U.S. and more than 60 coalition partners work together to eliminate Daesh and the threat they pose to Iraq and Syria.
(U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Larry E. Reid Jr., Released)

A U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet receives fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker over Iraq Sept. 28, 2016. Airmen from the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron refueled U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets over Iraq in support of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve. The U.S. and more than 60 coalition partners work together to eliminate Daesh and the threat they pose to Iraq and Syria. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Larry E. Reid Jr., Released)

A U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet receives fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker over Iraq Sept. 28, 2016. Airmen from the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron refueled U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets over Iraq in support of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve. The U.S. and more than 60 coalition partners work together to eliminate Daesh and the threat they pose to Iraq and Syria.
(U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Larry E. Reid Jr., Released)

A U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet receives fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker over Iraq Sept. 28, 2016. Airmen from the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron refueled U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets over Iraq in support of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve. The U.S. and more than 60 coalition partners work together to eliminate Daesh and the threat they pose to Iraq and Syria. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Larry E. Reid Jr., Released)

A U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet receives fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker over Iraq Sept. 28, 2016. Airmen from the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron refueled U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets over Iraq in support of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve. The U.S. and more than 60 coalition partners work together to eliminate Daesh and the threat they pose to Iraq and Syria.
(U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Larry E. Reid Jr., Released)

A U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet approaches a KC-135 Stratotanker refueling drogue over Iraq Sept. 28, 2016. Airmen from the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron refueled U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets over Iraq in support of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve. The U.S. and more than 60 coalition partners work together to eliminate Daesh and the threat they pose to Iraq and Syria. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Larry E. Reid Jr., Released)

A U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet approaches a KC-135 Stratotanker refueling drogue over Iraq Sept. 28, 2016. Airmen from the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron refueled U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets over Iraq in support of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve. The U.S. and more than 60 coalition partners work together to eliminate Daesh and the threat they pose to Iraq and Syria.
(U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Larry E. Reid Jr., Released)

A C-17 Globemaster III approaches a KC-135 Stratotanker while performing a refueling sortie over Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve September 15, 2016. The KC-135 provides the core aerial refueling capability for the U.S. Air Force and has excelled in this role for more than 50 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Douglas Ellis/Released)

A C-17 Globemaster III approaches a KC-135 Stratotanker while performing a refueling sortie over Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve September 15, 2016. The KC-135 provides the core aerial refueling capability for the U.S. Air Force and has excelled in this role for more than 50 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Douglas Ellis/Released)

A C-17 Globemaster III approaches a KC-135 Stratotanker before performing a refueling mission over Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve September 15, 2016. The KC-135 provides the core aerial refueling capability for the U.S. Air Force and has excelled in this role for more than 50 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Douglas Ellis/Released)

A C-17 Globemaster III approaches a KC-135 Stratotanker before performing a refueling mission over Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve September 15, 2016. The KC-135 provides the core aerial refueling capability for the U.S. Air Force and has excelled in this role for more than 50 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Douglas Ellis/Released)

A U.S. Air Force E-3 Sentry receives fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker during a refueling mission over Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve September 16, 2016. The KC-135 provides the core aerial refueling capability for the U.S. Air Force and has excelled in this role for more than 50 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Douglas Ellis/Released)

A U.S. Air Force E-3 Sentry receives fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker during a refueling mission over Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve September 16, 2016. The KC-135 provides the core aerial refueling capability for the U.S. Air Force and has excelled in this role for more than 50 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Douglas Ellis/Released)

A boom operator from the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron prepares to refuel an E-3 Sentry while flying in a KC-135 Stratotanker over Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve September 15, 2016. The KC-135 provides the core aerial refueling capability for the U.S. Air Force and has excelled in this role for more than 50 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Douglas Ellis/Released)

A boom operator from the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron prepares to refuel an E-3 Sentry while flying in a KC-135 Stratotanker over Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve September 15, 2016. The KC-135 provides the core aerial refueling capability for the U.S. Air Force and has excelled in this role for more than 50 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Douglas Ellis/Released)

Crewmembers from the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron prepare to take off in a KC-135 Stratotanker before performing a refueling mission over Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve September 15, 2016. The KC-135 provides the core aerial refueling capability for the U.S. Air Force and has excelled in this role for more than 50 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Douglas Ellis/Released)

Crewmembers from the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron prepare to take off in a KC-135 Stratotanker before performing a refueling mission over Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve September 15, 2016. The KC-135 provides the core aerial refueling capability for the U.S. Air Force and has excelled in this role for more than 50 years. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Douglas Ellis/Released)