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KEFLAVIK, Iceland – An F-15D Eagle moves behind a KC-135 Stratotanker for aerial refueling in support of the Icelandic Air Policing mission Sept. 15, 2010. The F-15 Eagles are deployed from the 48th Fighter Wing at RAF Lakenheath, England and the KC-135 Stratotanker is deployed from the 100th Air Refueling Wing at RAF Mildenhall, England. (U.S. Air Force photo/Maj. Andrew Rose)
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RAF Mildenhall Airmen fuel NATO's Icelandic Air Policing Mission

Posted 9/21/2010   Updated 9/21/2010 Email story   Print story


by Senior Airman Stephen Linch
48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

9/21/2010 - KEFLAVIK, Iceland --  "Global reach, global power," said Maj. Andrew Rose, 493rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron. That's what Airmen from the 100th Air Refueling Wing at RAF Mildenhall, England, are providing the 493rd EFS as the expeditionary unit polices the skies of Iceland as a part of NATO's mission of providing air sovereignty for member nations.

His words were once again proven true as a KC-135 Stratotanker took off to refuel eight F-15 Eagles with more than 60,000 pounds of fuel Sept. 17.

Not only does the KC-135 extend the range and air time of the 493rd EFS's F-15 Eagles so they can support the Icelandic Air Policing Mission, it gives them the capability to land at distant runways if necessary.

If inclement weather or anything else prevents the F-15s from landing at a certain runway, we can give them the fuel to fly safely to an alternate runway, said Major Rose, who is deployed from the 100th Operations Group at RAF Mildenhall.

That's not all the KC-135 is capable of. It's an exceptionally versatile aircraft, and no one knows that better than Major Rose.

It was one of his squadron's KC-135s that carried him from Kadena Air Base, Japan, to Tripler Army Medical Center, Hawaii, while the flesh-eating bacteria he contracted playing hockey threatened his life the morning of Nov. 14, 2003.

As well as having medical evacuation capabilities, the KC-135 is a capable cargo aircraft. The aircraft can carry up to 83,000 pounds of cargo in certain fuel storage configurations.

It was KC-135s and Royal Air Force C-17's that moved the 493rd EFS to their deployed location, said Lt. Col. Connor Blackwood, 493rd EFS commander, deployed from the 493rd Fighter Squadron at RAF Lakenheath, England.

"It provides the opportunity for us to bring all of our maintenance and operations personnel at the same time," Colonel Blackwood said, speaking of the KC-135s. "In other words, it's dual role."

Not only can the KC-135 Stratotankers provide the F-15 Eagles with the fuel to get here, they can bring the people and equipment for the mission, while doing it, he added.

Colonel Blackwood summed up the need for RAF Mildenhall Airmen and their KC-135 Stratotankers saying, "We can't do the mission here without them; there is no question about that."

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