Fairchild KC-135s support Operation Juniper Micron

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Nick J. Daniello
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing

Team Fairchild deployed KC-135 Stratotankers, Airmen and support equipment to continue anti-insurgent support to France as part of Operation Juniper Micron in Spain, September 2019.

The U.S. Air Force has been providing air refueling and airlift support to French operations in Mali and North Africa since 2013 to combat militant and insurgent forces in the area.

Team Fairchild, the largest tanker base in the world, was selected to deploy to support the anti-terrorism operation.

"Air Mobility Command is all over the world and the French utilize the [Fairchild] tankers to conduct these missions in Africa," said Capt. Eric Hitzfeld, 725th Air Mobility Squadron Detachment 1 commander of Moron Air Base, Spain. "When Fairchild sends their folks out here we have no doubt they're sending highly-qualified and trained individuals who are executing this mission and understand its importance."

Everything these Airmen [will do] here is going to be vital in sustaining the French [who] are conducting anti-terrorism efforts in Africa; without the KC-135 supporting the French, this mission wouldn't happen, Hitzfeld continued. 

The KC-135 has been considered the backbone of the Air Force refueling fleet since 1956, providing a 'mobile gas-station in the sky' to allow military aircraft the ability to stay airborne longer.

During this mission, Team Fairchild KC-135s will ensure OJM partners remain fueled and ready.

 "The KC-135 is integral for the overall OJM mission," said Capt. Justin Medlen, Operation Juniper Micron 384th Air Refueling Squadron aircraft commander. "The ‘135’ gives our partners … the ability to stay overhead a target to provide aerial overwatch and combat air support. We turn minutes of overhead air support into hours."

It's an absolute pleasure to work alongside the ‘tip of the spear’ and be that enabler, Medlen continued. It only takes one mission where we can go and impact the battle space, one combat mission where we can impact someone’s life in a positive way. It makes everything we do, from the hours spent training to the hours spent orbiting [the battlefield], worth it.

Initial support for OJM stemmed from the United Nations Security Council authorizing the deployment of an African-led peacekeeping force in December 2012. Air Mobility Command provides strategic air refueling for the French Air Force to accomplish their long-range mission sets.

Supporting this operation is just one of many missions Team Fairchild supports around the globe.

"It's amazing to be a part of an organization that one month, you can be flying [in support] of OJM, and another month you could be flying out of Alaska. We support so many mission sets for the Air Force, whether it’s training, moving cargo or people across the country, or accomplishing real-world missions here; we're doing it all," Medlen said. "It's amazing we can plug-in and work together... It's a pleasure and honor to do that."