FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash., –
Team Fairchild refueled two B-2 Spirit Stealth Bombers from the 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, as part of air refueling qualification training, Feb. 24-28 at Whiteman AFB.
Air refueling qualification training ensures that both KC-135 Stratotanker and B-2 aircrews remain prepared to support Air Force missions around the globe. It also gave crews an in-depth look at skills needed to refuel the B-2.
“This refueling maintained combat readiness for all Airmen involved across multiple platforms,” said Master Sgt. Joseph Ekker, 97th Air Refueling Squadron boom operator. “It’s imperative that we are efficient in conducting air refueling with any airframe that comes our way in order for our receivers to continue their mission without having to land.”
Training like this enables both Whiteman and Fairchild aircrews to be prepared for future missions. Air refueling missions with the B-2 are rare, partially due to its approximate range of 6,000 nautical miles on one tank of gas.
“It was a great opportunity for all of us to integrate with the B-2 unit and learn more about their mission set and air refueling,” said Capt. John Bellomo, 97th ARS pilot. “I’ve been at Fairchild for four years and this was the first B-2 I’ve had as a receiver.”
The B-2 is America’s only long-range stealth bomber, and can project U.S. airpower anywhere around the world from its home station by employing a wide range of precision-guided munitions. Air refueling, like that provided by Fairchild tankers, is a vital tool to increasing the 509th’s capability and lethality.
“It was a great opportunity to see their tactics, techniques and procedures during air refueling from the B-2 pilot’s perspective,” Bellomo said. “We can now better accommodate their training and preparedness for real-world experiences.”
By supporting aircrews of the B-2, Team Fairchild continued its success as the nation’s premier air refueling team, fueling Global Reach at the speed of war.