‘Box D’ tankers support SNIPER LANCE 2007
By Tech. Sgt. Eric Petosky , 100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
/ Published May 08, 2007
MIHAIL KOGALNICEANU AIR BASE, Romania --
Two 351st Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 Stratotankers, with aircrews and maintainers, flew from RAF Mildenhall to Romania April 28 in support of exercise SNIPER LANCE 2007.
The exercise, which concluded May 4, pitted RAF Lakenheath F-15s against Romanian Air Force Mig-21s in dissimilar air combat maneuvers.
The tankers provided mid-air refueling for the F-15s, provided airlift for personnel and equipment, and even played the role of a "red air" bomber, according to Capt. John Kelley, 351st Air Refueling Squadron pilot and SNIPER LANCE project officer for tanker support.
"The tanker was acting as a bomber, and we were given coordinates of a 'target' area on the ground," he said. "It was the F-15 pilots' responsibility to protect us as we flew to the target, while the Mig-21s were trying to intercept us."
In addition to an operational role in the exercise, the KC-135 crews also invited members of the Romanian and international press to fly during missions. More than 30 media outlets accepted the offer and witnessed first-hand, mid-air refueling from the boom pod.
May 3, the tanker crews hosted local and national Romanian distinguished visitors, including Romanian Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu, on a refueling flight.
SNIPER LANCE is the first exercise of its kind following ratification of a Presence Agreement by the Romanian Parliament, and is the predecessor to continued interoperability between Romanian and U.S. Forces, according to Col. Steven Dreyer, U.S. Air Forces in Europe liaison officer.
"Including the tanker in the exercise as red air was a ground-breaking initiative from which both sides benefited from tremendously," said Lt. Col. Craig Wills, 493rd Fighter Squadron commander and U.S. detachment commander for SNIPER LANCE. "Training in Romania with our 100th Air Refueling Wing counterparts represents a whole new dimension in our combat training program."