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168th Wing, Allies Mark Air Refueling Anniversary During Exercise

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Julie Avey,
  • 168th Wing Public Affairs

EIELSON AFB, Alaska - The 168th Wing from Eielson Air Force Base trained with U.S. Air Force, Republic of Korea Air Force and Japan Self-Defense Force service members to enhance readiness in simulated combat environments in June.

During Red Flag-Alaska 23-2, a Pacific Air Forces-sponsored annual exercise, participants showcased the vital contributions of air refueling on the 100th anniversary of the first in-flight refueling. 

According to the National Museum of the Air Force, the first successful air refueling occurred June 27, 1923, when a U.S. Army Air Service DH-4B biplane received gasoline through a hose from another DH-4B flying below. The experiment aimed to extend the length of time the receiving aircraft could stay aloft.

Air Refueling is essential to aerial operations, strengthening alliances and enhancing capabilities.

“We continue to support the national security both home and abroad with partner nations and allies,” said Lt. Col. Rick Walsh, 168th Wing Operations Support Squadron commander, Alaska Air National Guard. “The Red Flag exercises we train in every year providing refueling allows us to continue to grow joint operational readiness. Our wing stands ready at a moment’s notice here in the Arctic daily, and with the relationships we have built, we are able to provide top-notch refueling.”

Approximately 2,500 personnel and 70 aircraft participated in the exercise, strengthening interoperability among allies and partners, including JASDF and ROKAF.

Maj. Jeffrey Boesche, 168th Wing KC-135 Stratotanker pilot, said participating service members exchanged tactics and techniques. 

“The exercise allows us to train and complete the mission successfully with our joint and coalition partners,” said Boesche.

The annual exercise reinforces the Department of Defense’s continued commitment to readiness in the Pacific theater.