Military Aviation

RAAF and USAF tankers complete first ever formation flight in support of combat aircraft involved in Mosul offensive

Mosul offensive

As reported by Senior Airman Tyler Woodward, 380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs in the article Interoperability accelerates fight against Da’esh, as the fight against Daesh continues, interoperability between allied forces is proving to be essential in the success of Operation Inherent Resolve.

A practical example of this concept comes from the first ever formation flight performed on Oct. 24, 2016 by a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) KC-30A Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) and a a U.S. Air Force (USAF) KC-10 Extender where the two tankers delivered more than 600 thousand pounds of fuel to coalition aircraft supporting the liberation of Mosul, Iraq.

“Nothing–and I mean literally nothing–is possible in terms of fighter aviation in CENTCOM unless we get help from our brothers and sisters in the tanker world,” pointed out Col. Paul Birch, 380th Expeditionary Operations Group commander and F-15E Strike Eagle pilot. “Fighters and tankers are a very close-knit team taking the fight to Daesh.”

Both the air refueling platforms are fitted with two different kinds of air-to-air refueling systems in the form of an aerial refueling boom and a hose-and-drogue system to refuel probe-equipped aircraft.

RAAF and USAF tankers formation flight

Noteworthy the two tankers completed more than a dozen successful refuels during the flight. Many of the receiving aircraft were RAAF F-18 Hornets which provided close air support (CAS) and interdiction of enemy supply lines directly against Daesh.

“We have demonstrated greater interoperability,” said Maj. Kyle, USAF military personnel exchange crew member on the RAAF KC-30. “When we fly together in formation, we can provide mutual support for one another.”

Despite the challenges of combining airpowers can be daunting, for the two crews this opportunity proved to be a rewarding experience.

“I think this mission was definitely a success across the board,” said Lt. Col. Aaron, 908th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron commander. “By working with the RAAF, we proved that we could plan, generate, launch and execute a formation. In the future, I think you may even see us consolidate fuel, which would be an added advantage during dynamic operations.”

U.S. Air Force KC-10 Extender and Royal Australian Air Force KC-30A crews pose for a photo after completing the first ever coalition formation flight on Oct. 25, 2016

Photo credit: Royal Australian Air Force and Senior Airman Tyler Woodward / U.S. Air Force

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

Recent Posts

US Navy EA-18G Growler pilot explains why pulling 9Gs feels like an elephant is standing on your chest (and it very quickly begins damaging your body)

G-LOC G-induced Loss Of Consciousness (abbreviated as G-LOC) is a term generally used in aerospace physiology to… Read More

14 hours ago

US Navy F-4 RIO recalls when his Phantom II was mistakenly shot down by a US Navy F-4 (flown by a USAF exchange pilot)

The F-4 Phantom II In response to Navy requirements for a high-altitude interceptor to defend… Read More

14 hours ago

US Navy A-7 pilot recalls taking his Corsair II as high as possible during Post Maintenance Check Flights

The Corsair II The A-7 Corsair II was initially developed in response to a 1963… Read More

2 days ago

USAF F-16 pilot tells why the F-15E Strike Eagle can’t hold a candle to an F-22 Raptor in an up close and personal engagement

F-15E Vs F-22 Developed to meet the US Air Force (USAF) requirement for air-to-ground missions, the… Read More

2 days ago

Oregon Air National Guard 142nd Wing unveils first two operational USAF F-15EX Eagle II fighter jets

Oregon Air National Guard 142nd Wing first two F-15EX Eagle IIs On Jul. 12, 2024… Read More

3 days ago

F-104 Starfighter Pilot recalls when he and his Wingman scored five Simulated Kills against an F-15B Eagle in a Single Training Mission

The F-104 Starfighter Designed by Lockheed’s ace engineer Clarence “Kelly” Johnson to surpass the MiG-15… Read More

3 days ago