The US Air Force’s (USAF) CV-22 Osprey aircraft has participated in multiple tactical air-refuelling (TAR) missions with a KC-10 Extender aircraft over the south-west region of the US.
The Osprey aircraft is assigned to the 20th Special Operations Squadron (SOS). It performed the TAR missions with the KC-10 at an altitude of approximately 10,000ft. The KC-10 is assigned to the 6th Air Refueling Squadron.
20th SOS commander lieutenant colonel Charles Mauzé said: “We are very familiar with our own Air Force Special Operations Command counterparts and have a habitual relationship of getting fuel from them.
“So when we have a chance to train with Air Mobility Command aircraft like the KC-10, we jump at the opportunity because that type of asset provides a whole new set of capabilities for us.”
The KC-10 features six different fuel tanks that have a combined capacity of more than 350,000lb of fuel.
The training is significant as the process of giving and receiving fuel is not universal throughout the different airframes.
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6th ARS boom operator senior airman Mason Wells said: “The refuelling happens at a considerably lower speed and lower altitude compared to other receivers.
“As a result, the propellers from the CV-22 tend to create an air buffer between themselves and the aft portion of our aircraft, which makes it feel like they are pushing us out of a level flight path and moving us around. To say the least, it is a very different feeling.”
Mauzé noted that the training will help pilots get acquainted with the different procedures associated with the KC-10.
He added: “Air refuelling differs from aircraft to aircraft, which is why it’s important to conduct this training so our pilots familiarise themselves with the different procedures associated with the KC-10.
“Factors such as the airflow behind the tanker feeling different and the change in altitude are dynamics our pilots need to experience and be aware of.”
The training is aimed at enabling air refuelling in a deployed location.
In addition to TAR missions, the 20th SOS performed combat search and rescue training, low-level water training and rescue winch hoist training.
The crew also underwent training in operating the .50-calibre GAU-21 as a ramp-mounted weapon system.