Okies maintain competitive advantage in Italy

  • Published
  • By Lauren Kelly
  • 507th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla.—In a total-force effort, eighty-five Reserve Citizen Airmen with the 507th Air Refueling Wing supported NATO and the 55th Fighter Wing at Aviano Air Base, Italy, increasing interoperability and strengthening extended nuclear deterrence Feb. 22-March 11.

During the 18-day trip, two rotations of operations, maintenance and support personnel worked together to complete more than 30 flying hours over the Adriatic Sea, offloading approximately 575,000 lbs. of fuel to 555th “Triple Nickel” Fighter Squadron F-16 receiver aircraft, ensuring successful training for future mobilization capabilities in highly contested environments.

1st Lt. Benjamin Pryor, 465th Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 pilot, said the experience was invaluable for the 507th ARW team.

“Going out of the country to conduct our mission is beneficial for the whole team,” Pryor said. “We train all the time at our home station, but flying in a new environment really helps get the hands-on experience that we need to hone our future warfighting capabilities.”

From March 6-10, the 507th ARW supported Aviano Air Base’s full-scale readiness exercise, refueling an average of 10 F-16s per flight during numerous aerial training sorties. The training exercise enabled the personnel of the 31st FW to ensure a high state of readiness in various scenarios.

The 31st Fighter Wing is the only permanently assigned U.S. Air Force fighter aircraft wing in NATO’S Southern Region, and the strategic location south of the Alps makes the wing critical to NATO’s ability to provide a collective defense and to deliver constant vigilance across NATO airspace.

In addition to in-flight refueling, the use of the KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft also allowed flight doctors assigned to Aviano AB to fly and log flight hours necessary to maintain currency needed to practice aerospace physiology effectively.

Planning a trip of this scale is no easy task, however, and required many people to work together to ensure the Airmen received quality training, all in the beautiful countryside of Northern Italy.