USAF Fighters Top Off From A Civilian-Operated Air-To-Air Tanker


For the first time, a civilian-operated KDC-10 tanker supported U.S. Air Force fighters in aerial refueling operations early last month. Operated by San Antonio, Texas-based Omega Aerial Refueling Services, the KDC-10 was equipped with “mission-essential personnel and equipment” and refueled USAF F-16s on a mission from Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, to Singapore.

Lt. Col. Curtis Holtman, Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) air mobility operations chief, cited earlier refueling missions involving larger reconnaissance jets, adding, “We’re expanding that aperture in PACAF, and identified a proof-of-concept employment to refuel fighter aircraft during exercise Commando Sling 23.”

Holtman added that the exercises would also include commercial refuelers providing air-to-air refueling to F-15Cs and F-22s as well as the F-16s. “If we can use commercial air refueling to cover the point A to point B movements for exercise participation across unit readiness training,” he said, “then it frees up our warfighter tanker fleet to be ready to respond for emerging contingency requirements. This is another mechanism that we can leverage to increase our warfighter readiness.”

Mark Phelps
Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.


    • Joel 3:10

      “Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears. Let the weakling say, “I am strong”.

      • Isaiah 2:4
        “And he will judge between the nations, and will decide concerning many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”

        • ”A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace.“
          ‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3‬:‭8‬ ‭NLT‬‬

          The reference from Joel refers to a period of time of life here on earth. The passage from Isaiah, that you quoted, while equally true, of course, being the word of God, refers to life in the kingdom of God, heaven. Not here.

  1. Originally an Irish company, Omega has been at the forefront of the civilian tanker world for 40 years. Firstly with ex civil 707-320Cs and now with ex JAL DC10-40s. No danger of the County Mayo boys selling to the Chinese!

    • I suspect that this is an ex-RNLAF airframe, Omega bought two KDC-10 tankers from The Netherlands in 2019 and 2021.

  2. At first glance, the main-page picture looked like an F-16 riding piggyback on the tanker, like the Space Shuttle on its 747. Probably from memories of seeing the Space Shuttle and 747 in real life.