Bloody Hundredth demonstrates reach, builds partnerships in Greece

A U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels a Hellenic air force F-16C Fighting Falcon Oct. 26, 2017, over the Mediterranean Sea. This refueling was in support of a training exercise among the two countries. The 100th Air Refueling Wing operated from Athens, Greece, for the first time. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tenley Long)

A U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels a Hellenic air force F-16C Fighting Falcon Oct. 26, 2017, over the Mediterranean Sea. This refueling was in support of a training exercise among the two countries. The 100th Air Refueling Wing operated from Athens, Greece, for the first time. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tenley Long)

Hellenic air force F-16D Fighting Falcons fly alongside a U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker from the 100th Air Refueling Wing Oct. 26, 2017, over the Mediterranean Sea. During this flight, the KC-135 participated in aerial refueling training with 22 F-16s. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tenley Long)

Hellenic air force F-16D Fighting Falcons fly alongside a U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker from the 100th Air Refueling Wing Oct. 26, 2017, over the Mediterranean Sea. During this flight, the KC-135 participated in aerial refueling training with 22 F-16s. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tenley Long)

Hellenic air force F-16C Fighting Falcons fly alongside a U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker from the 100th Air Refueling Wing Oct. 26, 2017, over the Mediterranean Sea. During this flight, the KC-135 participated in aerial refueling training with 22 F-16s. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tenley Long)

Hellenic air force F-16C Fighting Falcons fly alongside a U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker from the 100th Air Refueling Wing Oct. 26, 2017, over the Mediterranean Sea. During this flight, the KC-135 participated in aerial refueling training with 22 F-16s. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tenley Long)

Hellenic air force F-16C Fighting Falcons fly alongside a U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker from the 100th Air Refueling Wing Oct. 26, 2017, over the Mediterranean Sea. During this flight, the KC-135 participated in aerial refueling training with 22 F-16s. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tenley Long)

Hellenic air force F-16C Fighting Falcons fly alongside a U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker from the 100th Air Refueling Wing Oct. 26, 2017, over the Mediterranean Sea. During this flight, the KC-135 participated in aerial refueling training with 22 F-16s. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tenley Long)

A Hellenic air force F-16D Fighting Falcon prepares to take on fuel from a U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker Oct. 26, 2017, over the Mediterranean Sea. During this flight, the KC-135 participated in aerial refueling training with 22 F-16s. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tenley Long)

A Hellenic air force F-16D Fighting Falcon prepares to take on fuel from a U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker Oct. 26, 2017, over the Mediterranean Sea. During this flight, the KC-135 participated in aerial refueling training with 22 F-16s. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tenley Long)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Kaleb Bourque, 351st Air Refueling Squadron boom operator, refuels a Hellenic air force F-16C Fighting Falcon Oct. 26, 2017, over the Mediterranean Sea. This refueling was in support of a training exercise amount the two countries, building partnerships. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tenley Long)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Kaleb Bourque, 351st Air Refueling Squadron boom operator, refuels a Hellenic air force F-16C Fighting Falcon Oct. 26, 2017, over the Mediterranean Sea. This refueling was in support of a training exercise amount the two countries, building partnerships. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tenley Long)

ATHENS, Greece -- The U.S. Air Force and the Hellenic air force participated in an air to air refueling training mission over the Mediterranean Sea Oct. 26.

From the moment the wheels of the KC-135 Stratotanker landed at the Athens International Airport in Greece, training commenced. This was the first time landing at an international airport for all the pilots on board.

“This alone allowed for all the pilots up front the chance to see how international airport operations are conducted,” said Capt. Richard Jackson, 351st Air Refueling Squadron aircraft commander. “On top of that, conducting air to air refueling with the Hellenic air force was a huge opportunity for us to gain training for our boom operators in the back.”

The Hellenic air force benefitted from this training as well, allowing 22 pilots the opportunity to practice aerial refueling hook ups.

“We started off a little rocky, with a 30 minute delay, but after we took off everything was on par with the timing,” Jackson said. “We arrived on our refueling track and completed aerial refueling with the F-16 pilots from the Hellenic air force. We did about five initial qualifications and requalifications for their pilots, along with currency training for us and them. All in all it was a very successful day.”

This was the first time the 100th Air Refueling Wing operated from Greece, building partnership with the Hellenic air force, while demonstrating the KC-135’s reach in Europe.

“There are many players involved in making this a successful training mission,” Jackson said. “To ensure an announced arrival and departure from Greece, we had overwhelming support from the U.S. Embassy, who worked closely with the [Hellenic air force] and the local government in Greece. Overall, without this team working cohesively, this mission could never take place.”

This mission provided the training and teamwork necessary to expand capabilities and confidence of the U.S. Air Force and its NATO allies.