Three KC-10 Extenders from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, departed to the Pacific to provide Global Reach support for Operation Talisman Sabre 17 on July 9.
The ultimate destination for the refueling aircraft is Wake Island, a small atoll in the western Pacific Ocean. From Wake Island, the aircraft are suited to support and refuel mobility aircraft from Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, Charleston AFB, South Carolina, and the Royal Australian Air Force. During the exercise, 300 paratroopers are expected to be flown from Alaska to Australia in a single flight.
“This is a large exercise with a lot of moving parts,” said Capt. Mike Warzinski, KC-10 Extender instructor pilot assigned to the 2nd Air Refueling Squadron. “There are going to be 14 mobility aircraft going nonstop from Alaska to Australia, which would not be possible without air refueling somewhere along the way.”
Upon leaving Joint Base MDL, the formation of three KC-10s tested their air refueling systems on one another, taking turns to both refuel and be refueled.
“It's excellent training for us to warm our hands with formation procedures ahead of time,” said Warzinski. “The KC-10 is so capable, if you throw three or four of us together, we can test each other’s systems and make sure everything is working well prior to flying halfway across the world.”
Once the aircraft are in position, it’s the responsibility of the boom operator to ensure in-air refueling is performed safely and effectively. These boom operators train to ensure they are qualified to perform this type of mission throughout the globe.
“We go west; we go east,” said Staff Sgt. Tim Lowman, 2nd ARS KC-10 boom operator. “The KC-10 Extender can reach out and touch anyone, anywhere. We can go wherever we are needed, whenever we are needed.”
Talisman Sabre 17 provides the U.S. military a unique opportunity to strengthen its alliances in the Pacific and project power throughout the region.
“It shows the capability of our Air Force to move large Army battalions and brigades across the world in one flight,” said Warzinski. “We can deliver this fight in a moment’s notice anywhere in the world – this is something our enemies should be worried about.”
Upon arriving at Wake Island and preparing for the exercise, the airmen responsible for delivering Rapid Global Mobility will take flight in their KC-10 Extender to support and refuel the aircraft enroute from Alaska to Australia - entirely enabling the exercise.
“This exercise is a perfect opportunity to perform exactly what we train to do every day,” said Warzinski. “This is global reach and global mobility at its finest.”