5/25/2011 - SOUTHWEST ASIA -- For the first time since Operation Iraqi Freedom started all the way up to the creation of Operation New Dawn, KC-135 Stratotankers have forward deployed to conduct air refueling operations.
The 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron Detachment 4 is carrying out its mission from a forward operating base in Iraq with only a handful of aircraft and crew members.
"Originally, it was done purely as a fuel savings initiative," said Lt. Col. Christopher Amrhein, 340th EARS commander. "Soon after we started, additional capabilities were realized."
By forward deploying, the tanker aircrews have reduced approximately three hours of flying time on each sortie and are saving about $2 million a month in fuel costs.
"Our on-station response time was reduced by up to 80 percent," said Maj. Gregory Huhmann, the detachment commander. "We can remain on station longer and offload more fuel. We don't have to fly as far to get there; thus we can provide more fuel to the fight."