Airway-side Assistance

A KC-135 tanker crew, operating from the Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan, recently refueled and escorted a crippled fighter over Afghanistan, according to Manas officials. “The [flight] lead explained they were engaged in a troops-in-contact scenario” and requested fuel for his wingman, said Capt. Michael Thomson, a KC-135 pilot with the 22nd Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron, in an Aug. 29 Manas release. The second fighter jet’s electrical system was malfunctioning, so the tanker crew improvised radio contact to refuel the fighter. Once in contact, the fighter pilot requested a battle-damage inspection of the jet, relaying that the “only thing working” on the aircraft was its engine, recounted KC-135 boomer SMSgt. Keith Werner. Without instruments, the fighter was unable to reliably navigate and communicate, so the tanker crew provided information on divert airfields, escorted the jet, and assisted the pilot in re-booting the fighter’s critical systems. With the tanker crew’s help, the fighter successfully regained instrumentation and returned to base safely, according to the release. (Manas report by Capt. Martha Petersante)