Seymour Johnson refueling wing ready for Afghanistan
Posted December 2, 2009 6:12 p.m. EST
Updated December 2, 2009 7:13 p.m. EST
SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. — Behind the fighter jets at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base are the large refueling planes that keep them going.
The 916th Air Refueling Wing is made up of Air Force reservists and a squadron of active duty airmen trained to leave at any time. Refueling can also be done mid-flight so pilots don't have to land.
“We can refuel both the fighters that are over there fighting the war...but also we refuel the C17s, the C5s, the cargo aircrafts, that are taking troops equipment over to the war,” said Col. Caroline Evernham, commander of the of 916th Operations Group.
Military experts say refueling is critical in landlocked places like Afghanistan where adequate landing fields are limited.
President Barack Obama ordered an additional 30,000 U.S. troops into Afghanistan on Tuesday night.
Air fueling squadrons allow other aircraft to travel farther and stay lighter.
“The less fuel they have to take up with them, the more armaments, the more weapons they can carry and we can allow them to extend their range,” said Lt. Col. Art Primas, an operations officer in the 911th Squadron.
Primas said members of his unit are deployed to Qatar in 60-day rotations. If called to Afghanistan, Primas said his group will be ready.
“We are motivated to do whatever is required. If it requires being gone longer than 60 days, we have the capability to do that,” Primas said.
Reservists from the wing just returned from a 60 day deployment to Qatar. They are currently at their civilian jobs.