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Mildenhall hosts 5th annual European Tanker Symposium

Sqn. Ldr. Richard Fryer, RAF Mildenhall station commander, welcomes aircrew on the first day of the European Tanker Symposium at RAF Mildenhall, England, May 14, 2018.  The 100th Air Refueling Wing hosted the 5th annual European Tanker Symposium, where 13 countries came together and trained to establish mixed-flight formation air refueling standardized procedures. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christine Groening)

Sqn. Ldr. Richard Fryer, RAF Mildenhall station commander, welcomes aircrew on the first day of the European Tanker Symposium at RAF Mildenhall, England, May 14, 2018. The 100th Air Refueling Wing hosted the 5th annual European Tanker Symposium, where 13 countries came together and trained to establish mixed-flight formation air refueling standardized procedures. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christine Groening)

Aircrew from 13 NATO countries tour the KC-135 Stratotanker from the 100th Air Refueling Wing, during the European Tanker Symposium at RAF Mildenhall, England, May 14, 2018. At the end of the week-long event, aircrew flew in the KC-135, and Royal Air Force Voyager mixed formations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christine Groening)

Aircrew from 13 NATO countries tour the KC-135 Stratotanker from the 100th Air Refueling Wing, during the European Tanker Symposium at RAF Mildenhall, England, May 14, 2018. At the end of the week-long event, aircrew flew in the KC-135, and Royal Air Force Voyager mixed formations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christine Groening)

A U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker and Royal Air Force Voyager stand on the flightline at RAF Mildenhall, England, May 17, 2018. The 100th Air Refueling Wing hosted the 5th annual European Tanker Symposium, where 13 countries came together and trained to establish mixed-flight formation air-refueling standardized procedures. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christine Groening)

A U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker and Royal Air Force Voyager stand on the flightline at RAF Mildenhall, England, May 17, 2018. The 100th Air Refueling Wing hosted the 5th annual European Tanker Symposium, where 13 countries came together and trained to establish mixed-flight formation air-refueling standardized procedures. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christine Groening)

A U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker takes off from RAF Mildenhall, May 17, 2018. The 100th Air Refueling Wing hosted the European Tanker Symposium, which has been held annually since 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christine Groening)

A U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker takes off from RAF Mildenhall, May 17, 2018. The 100th Air Refueling Wing hosted the European Tanker Symposium, which has been held annually since 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christine Groening)

Royal Air Force Flight Lt. Jace Orr, left, and Wing Commander Pete Thorbjornsen fly the RAF Voyager over the North Sea during the European Tanker Symposium, May 17, 2018. The symposium is an annual event where NATO allies and partner nations with an interest in air refueling capabilities gather to discuss tanker formation flights. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexandria Lee)

Royal Air Force Flight Lt. Jace Orr, left, and Wing Commander Pete Thorbjornsen fly the RAF Voyager over the North Sea during the European Tanker Symposium, May 17, 2018. The symposium is an annual event where NATO allies and partner nations with an interest in air refueling capabilities gather to discuss tanker formation flights. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexandria Lee)

A Royal Air Force Voyager takes off from RAF Mildenhall, May 17, 2018. The aircraft participated in a flight formation for the 5th annual European Tanker Symposium. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christine Groening)

A Royal Air Force Voyager takes off from RAF Mildenhall, May 17, 2018. The aircraft participated in a flight formation for the 5th annual European Tanker Symposium. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christine Groening)

A Royal Air Force Typhoon fighter flys in formation, over the North Sea, May 17, 2018. The fighter received fuel from an RAF Voyager aircraft as part of the 5th annual European Tanker Symposium held on RAF Mildenhall, England. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexandria Lee)

A Royal Air Force Typhoon fighter flys in formation, over the North Sea, May 17, 2018. The fighter received fuel from an RAF Voyager aircraft as part of the 5th annual European Tanker Symposium held on RAF Mildenhall, England. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexandria Lee)

A pair of Royal Air Force Typhoon fighters fly over the North Sea May 17, 2018. The fighters received fuel from an RAF Voyager aircraft as part of the 5th annual European Tanker Symposium held on RAF Mildenhall, England. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. David Dobrydney)

A pair of Royal Air Force Typhoon fighters fly over the North Sea May 17, 2018. The fighters received fuel from an RAF Voyager aircraft as part of the 5th annual European Tanker Symposium held on RAF Mildenhall, England. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. David Dobrydney)

A Royal Air Force C-130J Hercules and Voyager aircraft prepare for aerial refueling over the North Sea May 17, 2018. The Voyager participated in training flights as part of the 5th annual European Tanker Symposium held at RAF Mildenhall. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. David Dobrydney)

A Royal Air Force C-130J Hercules and Voyager aircraft prepare for aerial refueling over the North Sea May 17, 2018. The Voyager participated in training flights as part of the 5th annual European Tanker Symposium held at RAF Mildenhall. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. David Dobrydney)

A U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels a Royal Air Force E-3D over the North Sea May 17, 2018. The KC-135 participated in a training flight over the North Sea as part of the 5th annual European Tanker Symposium. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. David Dobrydney)
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A U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels a Royal Air Force E-3D over the North Sea May 17, 2018. The KC-135 participated in a training flight over the North Sea as part of the 5th annual European Tanker Symposium. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. David Dobrydney)

Royal Air Force Flight Lt. James West co-pilots the RAF Voyager over the North Sea during European Tanker Symposium, May 17, 2018. The symposium is an annual event where NATO allies and partner nations with an interest in air refueling capabilities gather to discuss tanker formation flights. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexandria Lee)
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Royal Air Force Flight Lt. James West co-pilots the RAF Voyager over the North Sea during European Tanker Symposium, May 17, 2018. The symposium is an annual event where NATO allies and partner nations with an interest in air refueling capabilities gather to discuss tanker formation flights. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexandria Lee)

A Royal Air Force C-130 Hercules flies, over England, during the RAF Mildehall hosted European Tanker Symposium, May 17, 2018. The varying nations’ participating included air force pilots from the UK, Netherlands, and France, who were were able to fly in a mixed formation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexandria Lee)
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A Royal Air Force C-130 Hercules flies, over England, during the RAF Mildehall hosted European Tanker Symposium, May 17, 2018. The varying nations’ participating included air force pilots from the UK, Netherlands, and France, who were were able to fly in a mixed formation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexandria Lee)

RAF MILDENHALL, England -- The 100th Air Refueling Wing hosted 13 NATO nations during the 5th annual European Tanker Symposium, May 14-18.

The symposium, held every year since 2012, allows NATO allies to share their experiences, discuss mixed tanker formation standards, and build on tanker integration.

The week-long event included mixed formation academics, discussions and flights in a KC-135 Stratotanker and a Royal Air Force Voyager. Ultimately, the event was to establish and initialize best practices when flying in a multinational formation, and the goal was once again achieved.

“This is one of the first times that we’ve gotten together as European partners to specifically concentrate on these tactics, techniques and procedures on how we operate together,” said Lt. Col. Timothy Mach, 100th Operations Group deputy commander. “Being able to fly on the airplanes, we can all get an idea of the countries that don’t normally do formation flying together, and we can start building those procedures.”

Flying in a multinational tanker formation is something the ETS is trying to safely create. During the days leading to the formation flight, aircrew shared differences in the terminology and procedures they each use.

“I think the procedures have remained largely the same,” said RAF Flt. Lt. Elizabeth Herbert, RAF Voyager captain. “It’s the fundamental basics that are important -- remaining a safe distance from each other when you meet up, and ensuring that you can remain in a close formation. It doesn’t really matter what large aircraft you have in that scenario; providing we maintain these techniques, the type of large aircraft – whether currently or in the future – doesn’t matter.”

Conducting these flights will ensure all countries are able to safely and cohesively fly together and complete the mission at hand.

“One of the big things we’ve learned is how eager our European partners are to work together,” said Maj. Max Hinton, 100th OG plans and programs officer. “It’s been really cool to have everyone in the same room and to have that dialogue. A lot of times, the distance can be a barrier, so having the opportunity to get this many nations together at one time is vital in making sure we’re all on the same page. I’d say the biggest thing is just realizing that there is an appetite for greater integration and working together in the European theater.”