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Metrea makes history with commercial air-to-air refueling for USAF

14th July 2023 - 17:30 GMT | by The Shephard News Team in London


For the first time, USAF has used a commercial air-to-air refuelling service. (Photo: Mark Chen/via Metrea)

Metrea achieved a milestone by providing commercial air-to-air refuelling to USAF RC-135 and E-3 aircraft during exercise Resolute Hunter, marking the first time the force has used commercial aerial tankers.

For the first time, USAF aircraft have been refuelled air-to-air using commercial assets in last month’s Exercise Resolute Hunter. While USN and USMC units regularly use commercial aerial refuelling services for training and support, this marks the first time that USAF aircraft have used commercial aerial refuelling.

Metrea Strategic Mobility (MSM) provided four aerial refuelling support missions for RC-135 Rivet Joint and E-3 Sentry aircraft in support of the exercise on June 23-29. The mission total included 13 boom contacts and nearly 90,000lb of fuel offloaded, providing both aerial refuelling training for the RC-135 and E-3 crews and enabling them to extend their participation in the exercise.

Jon Thomas, head of Metrea’s Air and Space Group said the company worked closely with NAVAIR, Air Combat Command and the receiver RC-135 and E-3 units.

An RC-135 assigned to the 55th Wing from Offutt AFB was the first to receive commercial air-to-air refuelling, followed by an E-3 assigned to the 552nd Air Control Wing from Tinker AFB.

This milestone comes after the first commercial boom refuelling in support of a USN P-8 Poseidon in April 2023. This refuelling used an MSM KC-135R during training exercise off the coast of Florida.

Two P-8 Poseidon aircraft were refuelled over a period of four hours, resulting in enhanced readiness and training of a front-line operational navy unit.

The Shephard News Team


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