INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey --
Airmen deployed to the 22nd Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron at Incirlik Air Base conduct daily high intensity operations keeping the gas flowing and the combat missions going.
It’s the responsibility of the Airmen of the 22nd EARS to provide in air refueling for all coalition aircraft involved in Operation INHERENT RESOLVE. The additional fuel provided by the refueling squadron gives extended air operations to coalition forces.
“Coalition aircraft couldn’t do what they’re doing without aerial refueling,” said Capt. Skyler, 22nd EARS KC-135 Stratotanker instructor pilot. “Every sortie we launch from here is pretty much equal in offload to two sorties of any other base supporting this mission.”
Supporting the mission requires that 22nd EARS Airmen be familiar with a multitude of different airframes. They must be flexible enough to work with different nations, operating different aircraft and speaking different languages.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Senior Airman Diana, 22nd EARS KC-135 Stratotanker boom operator. “It can be a little confusing sometimes to try and grasp what everyone’s saying over the radios, but it’s really cool to go up there and see so many different countries working together for the same mission.”
22nd EARS Airmen offload an average of 50K pounds of aircraft fuel every time their KC-135 Stratotanker is airborne. To put that into perspective, the amount of gas they deliver would be more than 7,000 gallons of fuel or nearly $20K at a gas pump using the U.S. national average.
“Our mission and the amount of fuel we deliver is crucial to the air support here,” Diana said. “It allows coalition aircraft to take off with a bigger payload and stay in the air longer.”
Coalition forces have conducted more than 7,000 strikes against Daesh targets thanks in part to the efforts of the 22nd EARS Airmen.
The added efficiency afforded to coalition forces through the efforts of the 22nd EARS Airmen is what Skyler said he likes best about doing his job. He said, with every mission he flies his goal is to deliver so much fuel that other tanker missions air time is reduced because of reduced needs.
“Us spending time out here, refueling, providing support for everyone that’s directly engaging ISIS on a daily basis is definitely a rewarding mission,” Skyler said. “I’m glad to be out here.”
Along with the pride of a job well done Diana said there is one slight perk to being an in air refueling boom operator.
“I’ve got the greatest office view in the world,” Diana said. “Looking out the window, you get to see a lot. I’ve seen planes out here I’ve never seen at home. You see the landscape, the huge difference between countries and how they’ve developed, and then, there’s always sunrises and sunsets. It’s really an incredible view.”