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Air refuelling event brings allied air forces together at RAF Mildenhall

PUBLISHED: 18:00 17 May 2018 | UPDATED: 19:20 17 May 2018

The USAF's refuelling tanker, the KC-135 Stratotanker at the European Tanker Symposium event at RAF Mildenhall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The USAF's refuelling tanker, the KC-135 Stratotanker at the European Tanker Symposium event at RAF Mildenhall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2018

Military personnel from US, British, and European air forces have been taking part in a symposium on the refuelling capabilities of the allied forces.

The members of the panel at the European Tanker Symposium event at RAF Mildenhall, from left, US Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Timothy Mach; US Air Force  Major Max Hinton; RAF Flight Lieutenant Elizabeth Herbert; Royal Netherlands Air Force Major Martin; and French Armee de l'air Major Moussa. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe members of the panel at the European Tanker Symposium event at RAF Mildenhall, from left, US Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Timothy Mach; US Air Force Major Max Hinton; RAF Flight Lieutenant Elizabeth Herbert; Royal Netherlands Air Force Major Martin; and French Armee de l'air Major Moussa. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The European Tanker Symposium (ETS) has been hosted at the US Air Force (USAF) base RAF Mildenhall and has involved representatives from the RAF, Royal Netherlands Air Force and French Air Force.

The RAF's air-to-air refuelling tanker, the Voyager, takes off during the European Tanker Symposium event at RAF Mildenhall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe RAF's air-to-air refuelling tanker, the Voyager, takes off during the European Tanker Symposium event at RAF Mildenhall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The 100th Refuelling Wing, based at the Suffolk base, is the only US air fuelling station on the continent and helps to refuel the aircraft of NATO partners across Europe and Africa.

To ensure there are standardised procedures for formation flying and the air refuelling, the event is held for partner nations to discuss details.

Pilot Lt Brian Klazura, left, and boom operator, senior airman, Corey Marion, with the USAF's refuelling tanker, the KC-135 Stratotanker at the European Tanker Symposium event at RAF Mildenhall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYPilot Lt Brian Klazura, left, and boom operator, senior airman, Corey Marion, with the USAF's refuelling tanker, the KC-135 Stratotanker at the European Tanker Symposium event at RAF Mildenhall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Pilot Lt Brian Klazura in the USAF's refuelling tanker, the KC-135 Stratotanker at the European Tanker Symposium event at RAF Mildenhall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYPilot Lt Brian Klazura in the USAF's refuelling tanker, the KC-135 Stratotanker at the European Tanker Symposium event at RAF Mildenhall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

An RAF A330 Voyager, from RAF Brize Norton, and US Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker, participated in a mixed formation take-off from the base while carrying personnel from the various air forces.

During the flight, they refuelled RAF Eurofighter Typhoons.

USAF Liteutenant Colonel Timothy Mach said as well as establishing techniques the event allows airmen to see and learn about the aircraft used by other nations.

Senior airman, Corey Marion, the boom operator in position for refuelling in the USAF's refuelling tanker, the KC-135 Stratotanker at the European Tanker Symposium event at RAF Mildenhall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYSenior airman, Corey Marion, the boom operator in position for refuelling in the USAF's refuelling tanker, the KC-135 Stratotanker at the European Tanker Symposium event at RAF Mildenhall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The USAF's refuelling tanker, the KC-135 Stratotanker takes off during the European Tanker Symposium event at RAF Mildenhall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe USAF's refuelling tanker, the KC-135 Stratotanker takes off during the European Tanker Symposium event at RAF Mildenhall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

He also said the event helps with building partnerships.

“One big thing we have learned is how eager our European partners are to work together,” he said. “The most important part in a lot of ways is building relationships.”

The USAF's refuelling tanker, the KC-135 Stratotanker at the European Tanker Symposium event at RAF Mildenhall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe USAF's refuelling tanker, the KC-135 Stratotanker at the European Tanker Symposium event at RAF Mildenhall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The members of the panel at the European Tanker Symposium event at RAF Mildenhall, from left, US Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Timothy Mach; US Air Force  Major Max Hinton; RAF Flight Lieutenant Elizabeth Herbert; Royal Netherlands Air Force Major Martin; and French Armee de l'air Major Moussa. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe members of the panel at the European Tanker Symposium event at RAF Mildenhall, from left, US Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Timothy Mach; US Air Force Major Max Hinton; RAF Flight Lieutenant Elizabeth Herbert; Royal Netherlands Air Force Major Martin; and French Armee de l'air Major Moussa. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

This will be the fifth time the ETS has been held at RAF Mildenhall and it is the most attended with 13 countries taking part throughout the week.

RAF Flight Lieutenant Elizabeth Herbert said: “I am really looking forward to being able to move forward from this and getting to operate together and standardise everything.

The RAF's air-to-air refuelling tanker, the Voyager, at the European Tanker Symposium event at RAF Mildenhall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe RAF's air-to-air refuelling tanker, the Voyager, at the European Tanker Symposium event at RAF Mildenhall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“It is the RAF’s 100th year and getting to participate in something as exciting as this is just great.”

The USAF's refuelling tanker, the KC-135 Stratotanker takes off during the European Tanker Symposium event at RAF Mildenhall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe USAF's refuelling tanker, the KC-135 Stratotanker takes off during the European Tanker Symposium event at RAF Mildenhall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Between October 2016 and September 2017, the 100th Air Refuelling Wing took part in 1,280 sorties and off-loaded 34.3m lbs of fuel.

Senior Airman Corey Marion is a boom operator on the KC-135.

He has the responsibility of refuelling the jets while flying thousands of feet above the ground, at 230mph, all while the tanker and jet are just feet apart.

He said: “It is very fun and very rewarding.”


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