SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. — Air Mobility Command Airmen helped mark a major milestone Jan. 18 by enabling the delivery of Marine F-35B Lightning II aircraft to Japan.
The transfer of the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 aircraft from Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona, to MCAS Iwakuni, Japan, marks the first permanent international deployment of the joint strike fighter. Four KC-10 Extenders from Travis AFB, California, and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, participated in the operation. The teamwork ensured the effective international deployment of the F-35Bs, providing the right effects at the right place and time.
“The arrival of the F-35B embodies our commitment to the defense of Japan and the regional security of the Pacific,” said Maj. Gen. Russell Sanborn, the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing commanding general. “We are bringing the most advanced technology to the Pacific to respond to the wide range of missions we take part in and provide greater support to our regional allies.”
Aerial refueling aircraft enable worldwide missions through force extension, making combat operations and partner nation support possible.
“One of the Indo-Asia-Pacific theater challenges is the tyranny of distance,” said Maj. Gen. Mark Dillon, the Pacific Air Forces vice commander. “U.S. Pacific Command spans 51 percent of the globe and more than 80 percent is ocean. This makes rapid global mobility absolutely vital to our daily operations. Whether it’s refueling U.S. Marine Corps fifth-generation fighter aircraft, resupplying National Science Foundation teams in Antarctica, or moving patients via aeromedical airlift, PACAF and the entire joint team in the USPACOM theater regularly rely on our partners in Air Mobility Command – and they deliver every time.”
The 618th Air Operations Center planned the critical aerial refueling support carried out by KC-10 crews from Travis AFB and JB McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.
While the mission was being executed, Maj. Ken Morris, the 618th AOC global operations director for air refueling operations, provided command and control for the KC-10s, ensuring the safe delivery of the Marine F35Bs.
“We oversee the execution of aerial refueling missions happening throughout the world” Morris said. “There’s no room for error in our line of work, we have to make sure the mission is successful by putting the tanker at the right place, at the right time to connect with the receiver.”
In 2016 AMC Airmen flew more than 42,000 aerial refueling sorties, transferring 1.2 billion pounds of fuel to over 128,000 receivers.
Air refueling aircraft are the backbone of global reach, increasing coalition and U.S. aircraft’s range while mid-flight. AMC Airmen utilize these aircraft while working around-the-clock to execute rapid global mobility and enable global reach.