It was just a normal day for the Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker military aerial refueling aircraft crew. A routine air refueling mission? It was a little more than that. On Aug. 17, 2020 the U.S. Air Force 171st Air Refueling Wing provided 100 thousand pounds of fuel to a Rockwell B-1B Lancer supersonic heavy bomber from Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota. The aerial tanker from Pittsburgh was the lead jet in a 4-ship formation, the others were from MacDill Air Force Base, Fairchild AFB and Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. Each tanker refueled a Lancer.
The supersonic heavy bombers were on their way to the East Sea to meet up with the Koku Jieitai, or Japan Air Self-Defense Force, for routine interoperability training. While there, they conducted training together that further strengthened the allied partnership. Together four B-1B Lancers, two B-2 Spirit Stealth Bombers, four F-15C Eagles conducted Bomber Task Force missions within the Indo-Pacific region over the course of 24 hours. This demonstrated the readiness to deliver wide-range support in a moment’s notice.