Four days after the official end of Operation Unified Protector over Libya, KC-135 tankers from the 22nd Air Refueling Wing returned to McConnell AFB, Kan. The tankers deployed to Europe in less than 24 hours for the US-led operation Odyssey Dawn, which preceded OUP. Since then, the 22nd ARW refueled more than 2,750 NATO aircraft, passing more than 172 million pounds of fuel to more than 30 types of coalition aircraft. They flew more than 3,000 sorties and accumulated 29,170 flight hours. “The bottom line is that the US is part of NATO. Most of our equipment is fully interoperable with the various countries’ receivers, and we train together. When it came time to employ, it was a very simple operation,” said Lt. Col. Robert Pochert, 384th Air Refueling Squadron operations officer. Staging more than 200 aircrew and personnel in Europe, McConnell airmen made up half of the 400 Air Mobility Command personnel forward deployed for Libyan operations. (McConnell report by A1C Armando A. Schwier-Morales)
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.