News: The 126th Air Refueling Wing supports the global strike mission
Story by Senior Airman Elise Stout
SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. - The U.S. Strategic Command's global strike mission relies on the Illinois Air National Guard's 126th Air Refueling Wing for its regular execution.
The wing supports STRATCOM’s global strike and strategic deterrence missions with aerial refueling, said Navy Adm. Cecil D. Haney, STRATCOM commander, in a 2014 congressional posture statement.
“The existential threat posed by a nuclear attack requires the U.S. to maintain a credible and capable deterrent force,” said Haney.
The wing's KC-135R Stratotankers support STRATCOM's bomber portion of that deterrence mission. It has the only aerial refuelers in the Illinois Air National Guard.
Bombers such as the B-2 Spirit bomber refuel in the air to reach their destinations at a faster rate, said Maj. Benjamin Louden, a pilot assigned to the 126 ARW.
The wing practices their portion of the nuclear mission in regular exercises.
“The 126 ARW always betters the mission of nuclear deterrence by being in a constant state of training to always be ready to execute the nuclear mission,” said Louden.
Practicing the nuclear mission keeps the wing at a high level of readiness, said Lt. Col. Ralph Delatour, chief of Wing Plans assigned to the 126 ARW.
“This is a key component of the nuclear triad, and provides national leadership flexible options in deploying nuclear deterrence and strategic threat response, worldwide,” said Delatour.
Without the aerial refueling the other planes could not reach their destinations and not complete their mission, said Col. Peter Nezamis, wing commander.
“… Our nuclear mission is the most important thing because it has to be perfect,” said Nezamis.
The wing maintains the highest level of readiness, ready to respond in support to the global strike mission, said Delatour.
“This instills credible deterrence in our countrymen and our allies, the ability to safely and effectively safeguard our nuclear arsenal, while also ensuring our adversaries have no doubt of our ability to protect our national interest,” said Delatour.