An Omega KC-707 supporting Exercise VALIANT SHIELD at Anderson AFB, Guam refueled a fleet of eight U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Ospreys of the VMM-268 Red Dragons en route across the Pacific, allowing them to complete a long, overwater retrograde flight to return home to Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, after providing Marine Rotational Forces – Darwin (MRF-D) support in Darwin, Australia.
On 25 October 2018, the Omega KC-707 took off from Anderson AFB, Guam to meet up with the eight MV-22s and their pathfinder KC-130 from VMGR-152 Sumo that had departed Guam 1.5 hours prior. Over the next hour, the Omega KC-707 closed the gap, rejoined the formation and provided AAR services to all eight MV-22 aircraft. The KC-707 then flew ahead and met the MV-22s and Sumo on Wake Island.
This relatively short route of only 1300 NM provided an opportunity for the crews to hone their AAR, formation and navigation skills and prepare for the 2100 NM leg from Wake Island to Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, a redeployment route longer than any other flight taken by an MV-22. For this next, substantially longer route from Wake Island to Hawaii, the Omega flew two repeat missions with four MV-22s and one Sumo each, ensuring enough fuel for diverts or unplanned weather.
The KC-707 flew more slowly and lower than it normally does to repeatedly refuel the MV-22, which presented a challenge in planning for the Omega and Marine crew. While common for strategic tankers to refuel jet aircraft at about 300 knots and in the flight levels, MV-22 aircraft refuel at about 200 knots at lower altitudes.
“It was different, and it was safe, smooth, and uneventful. What a capability,” said Robert Proano, Omega Vice President for Operations and Omega’s lead flight planner for the mission. “The KC-707 is the perfect tanker to support MV-22 strategic moves – able to fly along with the MV-22s or dash ahead as a pathfinder and carry Marines and their support equipment. Coupled with standard Omega flexibility in scheduling and support, the KC-707’s dual redundant centerline AAR systems and the ability to refuel an Osprey even if it is single engine, make it the ideal strategic tanker for long over water missions.”
Over the last 17 years, Omega has supported U.S. Marine Corps fixed-wing expeditionary land and sea based tactical aircraft such as Marine Corps F/A-18, AV-8B, EA-6B, F-35B & C and MV-22. In addition to Marine Corps TACAIR, Omega provides support to all seven variants of the F-18 in service with the U.S. Navy.
Omega Aerial Refueling Services is the only provider of commercial aerial refueling services in the world, and has completed more than 7,500 missions and delivered more than 272 million pounds of fuel. Omega offers a range of refueling solutions to the U.S. Armed Forces and U.S. allies across the globe.