Metrea conducts first ever commercial aerial refuelling of USAF aircraft

Posted on 13 July, 2023 by Advance 

Metrea has been part of a historic first by providing commercial air-to-air refuelling to US Air Force (USAF) RC-135 and E-3 aircraft in support of exercise RESOLUTE HUNTER.


Metrea commercial KC-135.

Image PRNewsfoto / Metrea / Photo by Mark Chen. Used by permission.

While US Navy and Marine Corps units regularly use commercial aerial refuelling services for training and support, this marks the first time that US Air Force aircraft have used commercial aerial refuelling.


Metrea KC-135 prepares to refuel a USAF E-3 Sentry.

Image PRNewsfoto / Metrea / Photo by Mark Chen. Used by permission.

From 23rd-29th June, Metrea Strategic Mobility (MSM) provided four aerial refueling support missions for RC-135 and E-3 aircraft in support of exercise RESOLUTE HUNTER.

The total included 13 boom contacts and nearly 90,000 pounds of fuel offloaded, providing both aerial refueling training for the RC-135 and E-3 crews and enabling them to extend their participation in the RESOLUTE HUNTER exercise.

"It was fitting that we could support the US Air Force in achieving this major milestone during the same week that we marked the 100th anniversary of aerial refuelling," said Jon "Ty" Thomas, Head of Metrea's Air and Space Group. "Our team worked closely with NAVAIR, Air Combat Command and the receiver RC-135 and E-3 units to pull this off and deliver the training effect needed. We look forward to supporting more US Air Force refuelling requirements as well as increasing demand from allies and partners."


Metrea KC-135 refuelling a USAF RC-135.

Image PRNewsfoto / Metrea / Photo by Mark Chen. Used by permission.

An RC-135 Rivet Joint assigned to the 55th Wing from Offutt Air Force Base was the first to receive commercial air-to-air refuelling, followed by an E-3 Sentry assigned to the 552nd Air Control Wing from Tinker Air Force Base.

For Metrea Strategic Mobility this marks another historic milestone, after recently completing the first ever commercial boom refuelling in April 2023 in support of a US Navy P-8.

Metrea Strategic Mobility (MSM) is the only company to own and operate a fleet of KC-135R aircraft, offering an air-to-air refuelling service that seamlessly, safely and professionally integrates into military aviation training and operations.

MSM has a mission reliability rate of 93% since beginning execution of a NAVAIR contract in late 2021. The combined Metrea aviation units have flown over 130,000 accident-free flying hours, across multiple aircraft types, missions, and geographies in support of US, UK and other allied and partner government national security objectives. MSM's aircraft are equipped with two wing-mounted Multi-Point Refueling System (MPRS) pods which facilitate refuelling with probe equipped Navy, Marine Corps and partner nation aircraft. Headquartered in Temecula, California, MSM is part of Metrea which is headquartered in Washington, DC with facilities across the United States, the United Kingdom and the EU.

MSM has sent a KC-135R to participate in the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT), being held at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, 14th-16th July. This marks Metrea's first participation in the show, and the first time a commercial KC-135 has participated in any air show worldwide, which is fitting given the show's theme of 'SKYTANKER23' in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the first aerial refuelling.

Jon "Ty" Thomas said: "As the only commercial operator of KC-135's, we are excited to celebrate this milestone in aerial refueling by* sending one of our aircraft to RIAT. Every week, our team is delivering commercial air-to-air refuelling to the US Navy, the US Marine Corps and to partners and allies and we're excited to share that story at RIAT."