MARINE CORPS AIR STATION NEW RIVER, N.C. -- In preparation for their upcoming deployment, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 266 conducted aerial refuels with an Air Force KC-10 Extender aircraft, Jan. 15, above Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina.
Next month the squadron is scheduled to deploy in support of Special Marine Air Ground Task Force-Crisis Response Africa. Part of their mission requires them to be able to perform an aerial refuel because it is a critical capability that extends the reach of Marine aircraft on the battlefield.
Although the squadron routinely conducts aerial refuel operations, this was the squadron’s first time working with the Air Force to conduct a refuel operation with the KC-10.
“As Marines, we normally execute these refuels with our C-130 aircrafts,” said Maj. Ricky Buria, the operations officer with VMM-266. “It’s a slightly different process, but our pilots were able to figure it out with relative ease.”
Buria said this kind of exercise takes precision and patience to execute and the pilots demonstrated those during the flight exercise. He said the value of the training for the pilots was getting exposure to the process.
During the flights, the unit continuously rotated pilots and co-pilots in an effort to expose each of them to the training.
“Having the organic capability to refuel our aircrafts in the air is amazing,” said Buria. “Our primary mission is to be able to transport troops and the gear they need. If we can’t do that, then everything else that we do doesn’t matter.”