Superior air power in adverse conditions

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Marc A. Garcia
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. – McConnell KC-135 Stratotanker air crews enhanced deterrence capabilities in the arctic Sept. 20-23, 2020, by supplying fuel to F-22 Raptors assigned to Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska.

These operations were designed to demonstrate the North American Aerospace Defense Command’s air capability readiness and will to defend the United States and Canada against competitors who continue to test our defenses.

Lt. Col. Jacob Parker, 350th Air Refueling Squadron commander, 1st Lt. Jacob Oare, 350th ARS pilot, and Airman 1st Class Tyler Young, 350th ARS boom operator, were able to deliver the necessary fuel needed to accomplish the deterrence task.

It was the McConnell air crew’s responsibility to refuel F-22s tasked with deterring aircraft entering the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone. The fuel offload helped the Raptors employ a layered defense that deterred aircraft from entering the United States sovereign airspace.

The broad operation spanned all three NORAD regions, including the continental U.S., Alaska, and Canada. F-22, CF-18 and F-16 fighter aircraft conducted air defense operations with support from an E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft, and KC-135 and CC-150T refueling tankers.

The severe circumstances and the accuracy needed to contact the Raptors refueling receptacles was a challenge that Young hadn’t faced before. However, he realized that his duties to refuel were vital to the mission’s success and he pushed through adversity.

“I had complete faith that he would get the job done,” said Parker.

Young’s confident mindset allowed him to see the mission through and refuel the Raptors. Although it was their first flight together, Young and Parker’s cohesiveness allowed the mission to be accomplished with ease.

“Young’s ability to execute a no-fail mission amidst adverse conditions was second to none,” said Parker. “He is the most professional Airman 1st Class I know in and out of the aircraft.”

The aircrew’s air refueling helped demonstrate the U.S. Air Force’s ability to support the aerospace warning and control mission that the NORAD executes.