Refueling the fight in the air, on land, on demand

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Kevin Long
  • 100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

Royal Air Force Mildenhall is home to two separate wings with different scopes and responsibilities. However, the collaborative efforts they use to execute each mission makes the installation as a whole, a truly strategic forward base.

There may be no better example of the close working partnerships that lie underneath the cloudy skies than what happens on the ground between the 352nd Special Operations Wing and the 100th Air Refueling Wing.

It is widely known that 100th ARW is the sole U.S. air refueling wing in the European theater, ensuring reach and deterrence through critical air refueling to U.S. forces, NATO allies and European partners.

But what happens if air-to-air refueling isn’t an option?

That’s where the 352nd SOW and the multi-capable MC-130J Commando II aircraft steps up to the plate, partnering with members from the 100th Logistics Readiness Squadron’s to set up a forward area refueling point (FARP).

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Ethan Nixon, 100th Logistics Readiness Squadron FARP team chief, says when his team is partnered with the 352nd SOW, they “provide the Air Force with the capability to give fuel support in an austere environment.”

“We’ll fly in, run a hose out and set up a refueling point for what is typically special operations units here. Usually it’s helicopters, fighters, or whatever else needs fuel down on the ground,” says Nixon.

There are a variety of reasons why midway or emergency ground refueling points could need to be stood up for U.S. forces, our NATO allies, or our European partners. As Nixon describes, FARP employment allows the U.S. Air Force to create “a mid-way point between wherever they’re going whether it be for medivac, hostage rescue or high value target missions.”

While the KC-135 Stratotanker is the chosen refueling workhorse of the 100th ARW for aerial operations, it is only logical that the 352nd SOW’s MC-130J be used to its full potential with this added refueling capability on land.

“It provides that capability to get fuel anywhere,” says Nixon, “I mean, MC-130s can essentially land anywhere, set up a fueling sight at any location, and the big thing is it leaves a small footprint. It’s a quick in and out operation like you were never even there.”

These capabilities do not end with the 352nd SOW and the 100th ARW. Team Mildenhall continues to share these skills with NATO allies and European partners through joint exercises.

FARP capabilities are just one example of the agile combat employment concepts that are being trained and developed as the 352nd SOW and 100th ARW continue to lead the way in building readiness for the high-end fight.