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    Alabama, Romania conduct first ever cooperative refueling mission, expand aerial capability

    Alabama Air National Guard 117th Air Refueling Wing KC-135 Lands In Romania

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Samuel Hartley | Alabama Air National Guard KC-135 pilot Cpt. Jeremiah Goldsmith of the 117th Air...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. Samuel Hartley 

    131st Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

    BUCHAREST, ROMANIA – A first-of-its-kind weeklong cooperative engagement May 16-20
    between the Alabama Air National Guard and Romanian Air Force was designed to do one
    thing: increase interoperability between the partnered nations.
    “This is an air refueling interoperability event with a Romanian F-16 unit”, said Alabama Air
    National Guard bilateral affairs officer Lt. Col Brian Baltz. “It’s about how well we can conduct
    missions with our Romanian partners, security cooperation, and how we enhance relationships
    built by the State Partnership Program.”
    Alabama and Romania were paired through the National Guard’s State Partnership Program in
    1993, and now, 29 years later, the two conducted their first mid-air refueling mission in
    Romanian airspace.
    “Bringing two KC-135 mid-air refueling tankers lets us, for the first time, build a new level of
    long-term trust and commitment between our aviators and air crews and their Romanian
    counterparts” Baltz said.
    “Twenty-nine years ago, our young officers and enlisted personnel that originally worked with
    Romania are now senior leaders and are still committed to this mutual relationship and this
    mission is a part of that concept.”
    Refueling the Romanian F-16 fighter jets is a natural extension of Alabama’s 117 th Air Refueling
    Wing’s mission, making the exercise seamlessly smooth for both forces.
    “The biggest thing is we can go practically anywhere and offload fuel to almost everything in
    the fleet of aircraft we support,” said 117th ARW pilot Cpt. Jeremiah Goldsmith.
    “Refueling Romanian F-16s just like we would any of our own aircraft is a prime example.”
    Goldsmith said the engagement was more than just KC-135s pumping fuel to F-16s; the layered,
    multifunctional training extended to the logistics and support aspects of the U.S. and Romanian
    “Their pilots get to see a refueling platform they don’t have, and we get to work with European
    air-traffic controllers and apply training not routinely exercised in the United States,” he
    Romania fielded its first F-16 jets in 2016, adding tremendous capability to its aerial security.
    Proving their ability to operate alongside U.S. refuelers now expands that capability even
    Mid-air refueling allows for more mission flexibility and better lethality through increased flight
    time and operational ranges, but F-16s still have to have to be maintained on the ground.
    That’s why maintainers from Alabama’s 187 th Fighter Wing—a unit intimately familiar with the
    F-16 airframe—also joined the engagement to integrate with Romanian mechanics.
    “We’re here to answer any questions they have about anything we’re involved in,” 187th
    Fighter Wing inspection supervisor Master Sgt. Byron Pope explained. “They learn a lot from all
    of our years of experience… so the Romanians can really build on successive events and work
    with familiar faces.”
    Pope has conducted several maintenance and general aircraft adaptive process missions to
    Romania in the past, often bringing the same Airmen each time and working with the same
    Romanian counterparts.

    “We were here when they got the F-16s,” he added. “They have come a long way in a few short
    years with a very advanced piece of technology.”
    All in all, 44 Alabama Guardsmen supported the engagement, conducting a mid-day refueling,
    two night refuelings, and four days of exchanging best practices and maintenance knowledge
    for 17 F-16 fighters.
    “As I look back on it, the most rewarding component of this is watching our Guardsmen arrive
    or return to Romania to work with their Romanian colleagues,” Baltz said. “They’ll part ways
    with stories, smiles, and contact information and that is a mission success for Alabama, for
    Romania, and for the State Partnership Program as a whole.”



    Date Taken: 05.18.2022
    Date Posted: 05.24.2022 16:05
    Story ID: 421429
    Location: BUCHAREST, RO 

    Web Views: 93
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