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USAF KC-135R Stratotankers provide air refueling capabilities for Exercise Cold Response 20

  • Published
  • By Courtesy Story
  • U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Europe and Africa

The air refueling capabilities for Exercise Cold Response 20 are fully operational at Ørland Air Station, Norway, with the arrival of KC-135R Stratotankers assigned to the 168th Wing, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, the 100th Air Refueling Wing, RAF Mildenhall, England, and the 507th Air Refueling Wing, Tinker AFB, Oklahoma.

CR20 is a Norwegian national readiness and defense exercise that takes place across Norway, with participation from each of its military services, as well as eight additional NATO allied nations and regional partners. The KC-135R Stratotanker extends missions by providing aerial refueling for U.S. and ally and partner aircraft.

Maj. Jared Alden, Chief of Plans and Programs for the 100th Operations Group, RAF Mildenhall, is the acting air-to-air refueling detachment commander for Cold Response. He said his excitement grew steadily through his involvement in planning the exercise.

“It’s a great opportunity to work with the Norwegians and a few of our other NATO allies and partners, and an opportunity to test our capabilities up this far north in a European country without the home station support we’re used to,” Alden said. “The integration between the Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve Command, and active duty forces is going to be second to none.”

The majority of the aircraft maintenance team assigned to the exercise is being provided by the 168th Wing of the Alaska Air National Guard, with 168th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Superintendent, Chief Master Sgt. Philip Newton, acting as the production superintendent. Working with 30 percent less manning than what is normal for a mission, the support from the Norwegian Armed Forces has been phenomenal, Newton said.

He also added they don’t get a lot of experience deploying their jets to an air base with limited support capability, standing up a mission there, and operating out of it.

“It’s just cool to come here, work with our NATO ally, and generate missions at a Forward Operating Base with minimum support,” said Newton. “The idea wasn’t for us to gain experience on cold weather operations, but to teach others; and by coming here with Oklahoma and Mildenhall integrating with us, it’s an opportunity to show them how this is done in an exercise environment.”

Alden praised the 168th’s maintenance package because it brings invaluable teamwork and knowledge to the table.

“These guys bringing in their maintenance team, with their experience and ease of operating in the cold and snowy conditions is absolutely a huge value,” said Alden.

The Cold Response 20 air refueling mission is expected to offload 12 million pounds of fuel to U.S. Air Force and NATO ally and regional partner aircraft.

Together, the U.S., Norway, and our other partners and allies are focused upon strengthening the development and interoperability of our forces and of our collective leaders and teams who understand the synergy of air, sea, and land power in a joint multi-domain environment. Exercises like Cold Response further galvanize those collective capabilities and steadfast relationships.