The US Air Force (USAF) has conducted the first hot-pit refuelling of the aircraft using the Versatile Integrating Partner Equipment Refuelling (VIPER) kit.

The refuelling was carried out by airmen from the USAF’s 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron (LRS) at Kadena Air Base in Japan.

The VIPER kit has been procured through the Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) innovation funds.

The squadron used this kit to refuel locally stationed F-15C Eagles and the visiting KC-46 Pegasus aircraft.

The process aims to develop proficiency using the VIPER kits, as well as enhanced the USAF’s refuelling capabilities.

According to 18th LRS fuels operations section chief master sergeant Jason Yunker, the new kit is a universal system that can be used with various adapters to refuel different airframes.

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It also provides increased flexibility and efficiency for refuelling operations, as well as strengthens joint-force capabilities across the world.

The VIPER kit’s ability to conduct rapid hot pit refuelling of the aircraft with any fuel infrastructure at different bases also aligns with the Agile Combat Employment (ACE) construct.

It will also boost the joint operational capabilities.

18th Wing ACE operations director major Eric Cadorette said: “In an ACE construct, we’re not going to be able to fight alone.

“We’re going to need our partners and allies to be able to do this, and sometimes those places [we could operate from] aren’t going to necessarily have the equipment that we need to ensure that our aircraft are full.”

“The VIPER kit is going to bridge those gaps.”

Furthermore, the new kits can save around $17,000 on operations throughout Europe and approximately $1m throughout the Pacific.