Two B-1B Lancers from Dyess Air Force Base’s 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, currently operating from Royal Air Force Fairford, England, conducted hot-pit refueling using the innovative Versatile Integrated Partner Equipment Refueling (VIPER) kit, at Spangdahlem AB Oct. 11. Spangdahlem Air Base employed the VIPER kit by refueling B-1s participating in Bomber Task Force – Europe 22-1, following NATO allied integration during an operation in the Baltic Region. This marks the first time the refueling system was used outside of F-16 Fighting Falcons in the U.S. Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa theatre.
“The Agile Combat Employment concept ensures our multi-capable Airmen can sustain and execute missions from austere locations throughout Europe,” said Col. Leslie Hauck, 52nd Fighter Wing commander. “Spangdahlem’s strategic location supports a range of fighter, mobility, and bomber missions and the Sabers building the innovative advancements our forces need to support the all-domain warfighter.”
“The innovation is hopefully going to change the standard for how we do our jobs,” said Master Sgt. Jason Yunker, 52nd Logistic Readiness Squadron operations superintendent and VIPER kit co-creator. “Today was monumental in showcasing the VIPER kit’s ability to put the ‘agile’ in Agile Combat Employment and not just supporting our F-16s, but with any aircraft.”
In February 2021, the VIPER kit was a top-five finalist in the AFWERX Spark Tank and received $1.2 million in funding to complete the project. In June 2020, Polish Air Force members assisted fueling a U.S. Air Force F-16 during one of the 480th Fighter Squadron’s Aviation Detachment Rotations, using Polish fuel trucks. This marked the first time a non-USAF fuel truck was used and a large step towards partner nation integration. Spangdahlem support to a BTF mission sustains the European Defense Initiative’s objective to actively develop new warfighting concepts to be employed alongside U.S. allies and partners throughout the European theatre.