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Airmen, KC-135s support exercise in Australia

by Staff Sgt. Jennifer Redente
36th Wing Public Affairs

7/17/2009 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam (AFNS) -- Two KC-135 Stratotankers delivered 140,000 pounds of fuel to two B-52 Stratofortresses participating in Talisman Saber 09, currently underway in Australia, and scheduled through July 25.

Talisman Saber is a U.S. Pacific Command-directed, bilateral command post and field-training exercise designed to maintain a high level of interoperability between U.S. and Australian forces.

"What we did basically was take off as a two-ship formation in a southwesterly direction, and we met with the B-52s and arrived at the same point at the same time," said Lt. Col. Allen Turco, a KC-135 Stratotanker instructor pilot in the 506th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron.

Stratotankers refueling Stratofortresses is nothing out of the ordinary. Both airframes were built during the Truman era, and were designed to make the two air frames compatible for refueling.

"I have refueled with B-52s several times," said Capt. Steve Greenspan, a 506th EARS KC-135 instructor pilot. "As a pilot up front, it's probably one of the easier aircraft to refuel. It's a mated sister ship of ours. It was made for us. We refuel it all the time, especially out in combat. I've had several deployments with the B-52s, and they are always really good platforms."

The KC-135s, deployed from March Air Reserve Base, Calif., and the B-52s, deployed from Barksdale AFB, La., are here to support U.S. Pacific Command's Continuous Bomber Presence, which helps to maintain stability in the Asia-Pacific Region while allowing U.S. forces to become familiar with operating in the Pacific theater.

Master Sgt. Timothy Preston, 506th EARS air refueling specialist or boom operator, echoed the B-52 airframes compatibility to the KC-135.

"The B-52 is much easier to refuel than a lot of the other aircraft," Sergeant Preston said. "The receptacle on the receiver of the B-52 is a pretty big area. The B-52 was designed for our aircraft. They go hand-in-hand."

Sergeant Preston has gained an appreciation for being part of the Theater Security Package, but also being able to support the Continuous Bomber Presence.

"It's a good feeling to actually come out and do the mission," said Sergeant Preston. "It's a nice experience to be here and participate in the mission that we're trained to do."

Captain Greenspan, an activated reservist, also enjoys being able to support the Theater Security Package and the Continuous Bomber Presence.

"I like supporting both missions here in Guam because it makes me feel like I'm back on active duty," he said. "Supporting the mission is what I enjoy the most... We can deploy at any point in time at any position and be utilized at all times right here."

The refuelers are expected to support the Theater Security Package and the Continuous Bomber Presence until August.

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