‘Freedom juice’: KC-10s work to keep fighter pilots in the battle during Talisman Sabre

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Dave Pingleton, a boom operator, refuels an F-22 Raptor from a KC-10 Extender during a Talisman Sabre drill over the Coral Sea, Friday, July 19, 2019. CAITLIN DOORNBOS/STARS AND STRIPES
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Dave Pingleton, a boom operator, refuels an F-22 Raptor from a KC-10 Extender during a Talisman Sabre drill over the Coral Sea, Friday, July 19, 2019. CAITLIN DOORNBOS/STARS AND STRIPES

‘Freedom juice’: KC-10s work to keep fighter pilots in the battle during Talisman Sabre

by Caitlin Doornbos
Stars and Stripes

BRISBANE, Australia — About 100 miles off the Capricorn Coast, Air Force Tech. Sgt. Dave Pingleton sat face-to-face with fighter pilots flying just feet below his KC-10 Extender on Friday morning during Talisman Sabre, a joint military exercise.

As the boom operator, it’s his job to pump thousands of gallons of “freedom juice” — what air refueling crews call jet fuel — into aircraft so they can stay in the fight without returning to the ground.

“The fight can’t be done without the gas,” said Pingleton, who is assigned to Travis Air Force Base, Calif. “If we can’t get the gas to the fighters, it wastes critical time to land at the base, refuel and get back to the fight.”

The first aircraft to approach was a Royal Australian Air Force EA-18G Growler, an electronic attack jet. Usually, a U.S. KC-10 refuels only American aircraft, but allied forces practice working together during Talisman Sabre.

Read more at: https://www.stripes.com/1.591349

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