Air refuelling event brings allied air forces together at RAF Mildenhall
- Credit: 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 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 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.
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.
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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.
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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.”
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.
“It is the RAF’s 100th year and getting to participate in something as exciting as this is just great.”
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.”