Maintaining the capability edge, Royal Australian Air Force P-8A Poseidon aircraft and crews from No. 11 Squadron forward-deployed to RAAF Base Darwin to complete a series of air-to-air refuelling training missions in partnership with United States Air Force (USAF) KC-135 Stratotanker mission crew late last year. Departing from home base at Anderson Air Force Base, Guam, the USAF KC-135 rendezvoused with the RAAF P-8A Poseidon over the Philippine Sea to complete the missions over three days.
Commanding Officer of No. 11 Squadron, Wing Commander Michael Sleeman said”This training delivered significant capability outcomes. The purpose of the activity was to provide RAAF P-8A pilots and mission crew with training scenarios to maintain skill sets and deliver a breadth of experience operating with the USAF KC-135 platform in the region. The integration and cooperation with USAF Pacific Air Force’s units validated tactics, techniques and procedures to optimise operational integration; from planning through to the execution phases of the air-to-air refuelling missions.
USAF deputy operations director Colonel David Rayman said there was a strong partnership between our services and our nations that delivered important mission effects. The seamless integration of both Australian and United States air forces demonstrates the close partnership we share and the agile capabilities we project, re-enforcing the value we bring as a joint and combined force; as one cohesive, potent and formidable military force that can ‘fly, fight and win’ together,” Colonel Rayman said.
No. 11 Squadron aircrew successfully completed the first RAAF P-8A air-to air-refuelling missions with a RAAF KC-30A multi-role tanker transport. Te addition of the USAF KC-135 to the scope of RAAF P-8A Poseidon air-to-air refuelling capabilities extends the radius of action and endurance of the platform in-theatre. The opportunity to work in partnership with the USAF has delivered a level of joint preparedness for when both fly and fight together. These enhanced Defence relationships through training are significant as they further develop interoperability with partners as they work together to maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific region.