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US Air Force (USAF) B-1B Lancer bombers assigned to the 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, currently deployed to RAF Fairford in the United Kingdom for Bomber Task Force 24-1, arrived on Oct. 31, 2023 at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, for a historic hot-pit refuel as part of long-planned bomber task force training mission.
A hot-pit refuel refers to the tactic of refueling aircraft while engines are still running, allowing an aircraft to reduce time spent on the ground and get back in the air faster. According to the article Turkish Air Force integrates with U.S. Bombers in long-planned mission by Capt. Kaitlin Cashin, 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs , this marks the first time that USAF B-1s were hot pit refueled at Incirlik Air Base (photo of the event were not released). The aircraft were on base for under two hours before departing for a training mission with the Turkish Air Force.
The 39th Air Base Wing deputy commander, USAF Col. Robert Schoeneberg, and 39th Air Base Wing command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Helms, greeted the 9th EBS commander, USAF Lt. Col. Ryan Stillwell, and the 489th Bomb Group command deputy commander, USAF Lt. Col. Andrew Marshall on the flight line.
The B-1s integrated with the Turkish military, to include KC-135R Asena tankers and F-16 Fighting Falcons, for training missions planned well in advance to practice Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) procedures and close-air support training missions.
“The teamwork with our Turkish air force partners showcased the interoperability and professionalism of NATO aviators,” said Stillwell. “Thank you to the 10th Tanker Base and the 39th Air Base Wing Team Titan for their expert support and hospitality.”
The Lancer’s arrival comes as the Rift Between Turkey and Israel Continues to Deepen, with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan intensifying its rhetoric against the Israeli government, while at the same time declaring that its opponent, Hamas, is not a “terrorist organization.” Moreover, on Oct. 28 he said that Ankara is working accordingly to declare Israel a “war criminal.”
Incirlik AB’s strategic significance extends beyond Turkey’s borders: in fact, the base is not just one of the largest military installations in the country, given that its strategic location makes it a hub for contingency operations and NATO integration.
“We are excited to support and commemorate this historic hot-pit refueling operation out of Incirlik,” Schoeneberg said. “It demonstrates the unique capabilities and strategic positioning of this base. Moreover, it highlights to everyone that Türkiye is an essential partner and Team Titan is open for business.”
According to a news release by EUCOM, the intent of long-planned bomber task force missions (such as Bomber Task Force 24-1) is to demonstrate the US’s readiness to support geographic combatant command objectives and showcase the nation’s ability to project US airpower around the globe.
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