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Tankers “Refuel the Fight” during Polar Roar

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Christopher Thornbury
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Responding to the nation’s call, four McConnell KC-135 Stratotanker aircrews refueled two B-52 Stratofortresses over Minnesota and Canada July 31, 2016, as part of operation Polar Roar.

Tanker support for these bomber training missions help demonstrate our ability to support U.S. Strategic Command’s global-strike capability at any given time.

“We need to show our partners that we have these capabilities; it assures our allies that when we make promises, we can back them up,” said Maj. Matthew Jones, 349th Air Refueling Squadron pilot and aircraft commander. “It shows future aggressors our capabilities as well.”

Jones led the formation of tankers on the five-and-a-half hour flight with 13 crew members who off-loaded 200,000 pounds of fuel and helped ensure long-range global strike capability.

“Tankers are extremely important to STRATCOM’s missions,” said Jones. “(STRATCOM’s) goal is to be anywhere on the globe to show deterrence, but they do not have that capability alone. They need tankers to reach their destination.”

The mission involved three nonstop, simultaneous flights from the U.S. to the North and Baltic Seas, around the North Pole and over Alaska, and over the Pacific Ocean to Alaska’s Aleutian Islands. Polar Roar helped ensure bomber crews maintain a high state of readiness and crew proficiency and demonstrated their ability to provide a flexible and vigilant long-range global-strike capability. Additionally, Polar Roar provided opportunities to synchronize strategic activities and capabilities with regional allies and partners.