Airmen from the 509th Weapons Squadron integrated with the 14th Weapons Squadron providing air refueling for a special operations forces exercise at Hurlburt Field, Florida, May 7-10.
The purpose of the training for the 509th WPS was to expose its students to the Special Operations mission set and to prepare its students for their large-scale Weapons School Integration capstone exercise where all weapons schools come together and perform peer-to-peer combat to perfect their skills.
“The tanker’s mission means that it’s always an asset that is integrated with other operations,” said Lt. Col. Ian Shelley, 509 WPS commander. “This exercise allows our students to integrate with the special operations mission set. They develop tanker tactics to best support air players who are providing air support to ground units. They integrate not only with air players, but with Army and Navy ground units.”
The exercise also provided the 509th WPS Airmen a chance to integrate with other weapons squadrons and their weapons systems to execute the mission. Some units that also participated in the training include the 14th WPS AC-130J Ghostriders, MC-130J Commando IIs, U-28 Dracos, and CV-22 Ospreys.
“SOF operates in a unique manner, one that most of our students haven’t experienced before,” Shelley said. “The integration opportunity provides tanker and SOF units with a broader set of tools preparing them for future combat operations.”
One of the key points of the training included the students having to work together to create an effective mission plan in order to meet the objective of the exercise.
“Not only did the students plan air refueling and fly the KC-135, we also had students who planned and witness tilt rotor air refueling on board an MC-130 and we had others who were heavily integrated in forward arming and refueling point operations whereby the lessons learned can be applied to future agile combat employment operations,” Shelly said.
The 509th WPS is one of 21 weapons squadrons and is the only weapons school for the KC-135 Stratotanker, with a mission of providing the world’s most advanced training and tactics to pilots, navigators and inflight refueling specialists.
“We develop aviators who are steeped not only in peer threats and tanker tactics, but also critical thought and problem solving,” Shelley said. “Their expertise in other platforms and mission sets makes them experts in employment operations.”
Training for the 509th WPS is designed to prepare Airmen to analyze and apply appropriate tactics to possible pacing threats, and ensure they are ready for tomorrow’s fight anytime, anywhere.
Story by SSgt Lawrence Sena, 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
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