Fuelling the fight: RCAF Polaris delivers 10 million pounds of fuel to anti-ISIL Coalition

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Article / June 8, 2015

By Joint Task Force-Iraq Public Affairs

CAMP CANADA, KUWAIT— The 21 members of Air Task Force-Iraq’s Air-to-Air refuelling detachment have reached a major operational milestone in their contribution to the Middle East Stabilization Force’s (MESF) efforts against the Islamic State.  

Recently, while flying their 168th mission on the CC-150T Polaris since the beginning of Operation IMPACT in late October 2014, the refueling crew, flying their CC-150T Polaris, surpassed 10 million pounds of fuel transferred to Canadian CF-188s and other coalition strike aircraft. 

This landmark number reflects the operational importance of Canada’s air-to-air refuelling capability in the fight against ISIL, enabling a wide variety of coalition fighter aircraft to reach areas of operations and stay overhead for longer periods of time in order to provide Iraqi Security Forces with effective air support. 

The air-to-air refueling detachment is a major asset for the MESF,” said Brigadier-General Lise Bourgon, Joint Task Force-Iraq commander. “The Polaris ensures fighter aircraft, despite their heavy ordnance loads, have the range needed to conduct airstrikes on ISIL throughout our operational areas.

While the Polaris is not the only MESF air-to-air refueling aircraft supporting fighter operations, the RCAF crews that fly the large aircraft have made a name for themselves for their flexibility and willingness to stay in the air as long as possible to ensure aircraft striking ISIL are fuelled on the way to a mission and are able to make it back to base at the end of the day.

With a refueling hose and drogue deployed from under each wing, the Polaris can transfer more than 80,000 pounds of fuel to receiving aircraft during a single flight.

The ten million pounds of fuel transferred is a success achieved thanks to the hard work and dedication of a unique partnership between RCAF aircrew from 437 Transport Squadron and civilian technicians with L-3 MAS who work tirelessly to keep the modified Airbus A310 ready for the next mission. Given the high operational tempo, this regular maintenance is essential.  Despite its reliability, regular maintenance is still essential, especially given the high operational tempo.

While sometimes overlooked, the contribution of this air-to-air refuelling capability is essential to keeping the pressure on ISIL. As the air-to-air refuelling crews note, they “fuel the fight”.

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