Young Tigers soar in pack, a first for PACAF
KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Typically, tigers are solitary animals – they usually hunt and fend for themselves in the wild, however, on Nov. 2, four “Young Tigers” took to the skies as a pack while implementing unique tactics during exercise Steel Tiger. The group of KC-135 Stratotankers from the 909th Air Refueling Squadron departed Kadena Air Base, Japan, to refuel F-15Cs from the 44th and 67th Fighter Squadrons.
The aircrew executed their pre-flight, taxi, take-off, and departure without using any radio communications. The four-ship also conducted minimum interval take-offs between departures on a single runway.
“The 909th ARS and our teammates from the 718th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron are always seeking new and creative ways to solve difficult tactical problems; coupling traditional methods to achieve new effects,” said Maj. Isaiah Oppelaar, 909th ARS director of operations and Steel Tiger mission commander.
In fiscal year 2018, the unit set a record for the most hours and sorties flown in the INDOPACOM AOR, an increase of more than 13% over last year.
“I am very proud of the effort this team puts in every day to make the mission happen,” said Lt. Col. Garret Bilbo, 909th ARS commander. “This team has really stepped up to ensure we not only meet the daily operational requirements but ensure the readiness of the forces throughout the AOR.”
The flying squadron maintains a high state of readiness and world-wide deployment capability to ensure immediate, sustained operations in support of rapid global mobility and joint power projection.
“We take every opportunity we can to make the force better and develop new tactics, techniques, and procedures,” Oppelaar added. “We are the first PACAF KC-135 unit to train our crews for minimum interval take-offs procedures and this has opened up a number of new potential solutions to some of our most difficult operational problems, enabling us to more effectively and safely meet the theater-joint forces air component commander’s objectives and priorities.”