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Multi-capable F-16 maintainers refuel multiple aircraft

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Lauren M. Snyder, Public Affairs
  • 332d Air Expeditionary Wing

332d Air Expeditionary Wing F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft maintainers recently epitomized the Multi-Capable Airman concept by refueling a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft during a hot-pit exercise in Southwest Asia, Feb. 5, 2022.While Air Force aircraft maintainers traditionally focus on mastering the maintenance of one specific aircraft, these Airmen employed their new skills to hot-pit refuel a 384th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron Stratotanker from Incirlik Air Base, Turkey.

“A regular refuel requires a shutdown, but a hot pit refuel leaves one engine running,” said Master Sgt. Tracy Curry, 384th EARS maintenance flight chief. “It saves a lot of time and enables them to complete more missions with limited support maintenance personnel needed. This extends refueling capabilities and airpower in the region.”

The F-16 crew chiefs visited the 384th EARS in Incirlik for a week, learning procedures in daily classroom lessons and KC-135 hot pit refuels to build experience and qualifications, explained Curry.

“Part of the agile combat employment strategy is optimizing the ability to move fighters around the theater, but you can't have fighter operations without gas,” said Col. Brian T. Stahl, 332d Expeditionary Operations Group commander. “These crew chiefs are an example of multi-capable Airmen because now I can have an F-16 crew refuel the refueler.”

The KC-135, used to refuel military aircraft midair, is more than twice as long and five times as heavy an F-16. These 332d AEW Airmen were the first trained in the wing for this cross-aircraft refueling capability.

“In the rare case a KC-135 has to divert, having this crew qualified to refuel shows how refueling capabilities can be extended,” said Curry.

The 384th EARS commander challenged the refueling crews to accomplish three hot-pit refuels as part of their training. F-16 crew chiefs helping expedite the process show how efficient everybody can be together, Stahl explained.

The U.S. Air Force routinely flies a variety of aircraft and units throughout the Middle East. These dynamic deployments represent the U.S. commitment to allies and enhanced regional security.