Fueling the birds of battle

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Benjamin Sutton
  • 366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Despite the government shutdown, German and Singaporean Air Forces will continue to train with U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marines through mid-October at Mountain Home during the annual Mountain Roundup exercise.

366th Logistics Readiness Squadron Airmen are working behind the scenes to ensure the work they do on the ground enables coalition aircraft to complete its objective.

"During Mountain Roundup we have the unique opportunity to fuel the jets of the German Air Force," said Airman 1st Class Aaron Dunn 366th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels operator. "The Germans are very polite and friendly out here on the flight line. Even though the aircraft they utilize are different from the jets stationed here, every jet needs fuel to fly."

F-15E and F-15SG Strike Eagles, multiple EA-18G Growlers, F-15C Eagles, AG-51 Tornados, F-16 Falcons, A-10 Thunderbolt II, F-18 Hornets, AV-8B Harriers, KC-135 Stratotankers, KC-130 Hercules, B-1B Lancers, AH-60 Blackhawks, AH-64 Apaches, and other NATO-, German- and U.S.-support aircraft are participating in the exercise.

The GAF currently has more than 10 AG-51 Tornados flying around the clock training missions. The wide-array of aircraft makes the exercise equally beneficial to all involved.

"Things have been sort of worldly out here lately," said Dunn. "I have had the chance to get to learn a bit about their culture and I've noticed that even though we are from different countries, the same basic work-related courtesies apply. They have almost identical safety standards and are very professional at all times. Having the opportunity to work with these German ground crews has been a wonderful experience. I'm glad they are here for another week because their Tornados are so much different than the F-15E and F-15SG Strike Eagles we fly from here. It's a nice change of pace to fuel them up."

The goal of Mountain Roundup is simple to provide more-integrated and proficient combined-joint forces training to everyone involved.

"We have aircraft from Germany, Singapore and the United States out here today which all have been refueled by us," said Dunn. "How many people get to drive this R-11 refueler on a flight line full of combat aircraft from multiple countries? The answer is very few and that's one reason why I love my job."

The 366th LRS provides worldwide logistics support for the wing's F-15E aircraft and Expeditionary Combat Support Units. The squadron has the capacity to safely store 4.5 million gallons of fuel and operate and maintain a 688-vehicle fleet worth about $47 million.

"Virtually any contingency operation involving the U.S. Air Force will also involve joint partners and, in all probability, contain coalition partners," said U.S. Air Force Maj. Tapan Sen, 366th Fighter Wing Weapons and Tactics Flight commander. "Inexperienced aircrews profit from simply being airborne with 80 to 100 other aircraft; from the extremely busy radios to the complex plans addressing airspace and target area conflicts with other aircraft. Veteran mission commanders from all countries and services refine their knowledge on their ability to command a successful mission during both peacetime training exercises and contingency operations."

Earlier phases of German training are accomplished at Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., where German aviators typically spend three years in continual training, exercising their capability with American partners at annual Mountain Roundups.

"Having a strong partnership with foreign nations is important because when we deploy they are part of the coalition forces who we work with daily," said Dunn. "These are the kinds of exercises which give us the rare opportunity to become more comfortable and build those important working-relationships. From peacetime tempo to war fighting operations--LRS fuels every major movement to ensure fighter wings across the globe can fly, fight, and win."