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U.S. Air Force F-35A, F-15E and C-130J aircraft conduct rapid refueling, rearming at forward locations

U.S. Air Force F-35A, F-15E and C-130J aircraft conduct rapid refueling, rearming at forward locations

Story by CPT Selena Rodts on 07/19/2019

U.S. Air Force fighter and mobility aircraft forward deployed to bases in Lithuania, Estonia and Poland on July 18, 2019, as part of Operation Rapid Forge, a U.S. Air Forces in Europe-led mission to enhance readiness and test our ability to function at locations other than main operating bases. The exercise is designed to enhance interoperability with NATO allies and partners, improve readiness and sharpen operational capabilities.

At Siauilai Air Base, Lithuania, F-35A Lightning II fighter jets, F-15E Strike Eagles, and C-130J Super Hercules aircraft and multifunctional Airmen conducted rapid refueling and re-arming using inert munitions. This exercise tests the Air Force’s ability to rapidly deploy in smaller, more efficient and agile teams to austere and potentially contested areas. Under the multifunctional Airman construct, Airmen are able to perform multiple roles e.g. weapons loaders could drive a refueling truck, security forces defenders could refuel a jet, and avionics specialists could provide airfield security while also performing their primary duties.

At mari AB, Estonia, F-15E Strike Eagles and MC-130J Commando II aircraft and special tactics operators conducted rapid refueling of the fighters by passing fuel to the F-15E Strike Eagles directly from the MC-130J. This demonstrates the special tactics operator’s and MC-130J aircraft’s capability to execute refueling missions in austere environments.

At Powidz AB, Poland, C-130J Super Hercules continued to operate in a forward location in support of Operation Rapid Forge.

These forward deployments also allowed aircrews to conduct theater familiarization and demonstrate U.S. commitment to NATO allies and partners through the dynamic employment of our military forces. The U.S. Air Force is engaged, postured, and ready with credible force to assure, deter and defend in an increasingly complex security environment.

The F-35s are deployed from the 388th and 419th Fighter Wings at Hill AFB, Utah. F-15E Strike Eagles are deployed from the 4th FW, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. Both squadrons of fighter jets are operating out of Spangdahlem AB, Germany. The MC-130J aircraft are from the 352nd Special Operations Wing at RAF Mildenhall, England, and the C-130J aircraft are from the 86th Airlift Wing at Ramstein AB, Germany, and from the 317th AW deployed to Ramstein from Dyess AFB, Texas.

For more information, contact U.S. Air Forces in Europe Air Forces Africa Public Affairs at 49 06371-47-6558 or e-mail or

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