Friday, July 06, 2012

Tinker Reservists to participate in Navy fleet exercise

by Lt. Col. Richard Curry, 507th Air Refueling Wing

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. (AFNS) -- Four 507th Air Refueling Wing KC-135R Stratotanker aircraft and more than 135 Air Force Reservists will join forces with the U.S. Navy during July to support a U.S. Pacific Fleet exercise.

The exercise, called RIMPAC (Rim of the Pacific), is a series of multinational maritime exercises scheduled to take place in the Hawaiian operating area June 29 to Aug. 3.

Held biennially by U.S. Pacific Fleet, the 2012 RIMPAC exercise is the 23nd time it has been held and the 6th time supported by Oklahoma Air Force reservists. An advance team, or ADVON, departed via a wing aircraft on July 2 with the main force scheduled to follow on later. There will be a mid-July rotation to allow additional reservists to swap places to give more members the opportunity to experience the joint operation. The 507th ARW reservists and aircraft should return home at the end of the exercise.

Twenty-two nations, 42 ships, six submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel will participate in RIMPAC. RIMPAC is the world's largest international maritime exercise. Its purpose is to provide a unique training opportunity and help participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world's oceans. The RIMPAC exercise series began in 1971.

Hosted by U.S. Pacific Fleet, and led by Vice Adm. Gerald Beaman, commander of the U.S. Third Fleet (C3F), RIMPAC 2012 marks the first time non-U.S. officers will command components of the combined task force during the exercise. Commodore Stuart Mayer of the Royal Australian Navy will command the Maritime Component and Brig. Gen. Michael Hood of the Royal Canadian Air Force will command the Air Component. Other key leaders of the multinational force include Royal Canadian Navy Rear Adm. Ron Lloyd, deputy commander of the Combined Task Force (CTF), and Japan Maritime Self Defense Force Rear Adm. Fumiyuki Kitagawa, vice commander of the CTF.

The theme of RIMPAC 2012 is "Capable, Adaptive, Partners." The participating nations and forces will exercise a wide range of capabilities and demonstrate the inherent flexibility of maritime forces. These capabilities range from disaster relief and maritime security operations to sea control and complex warfighting. The relevant, realistic training syllabus includes amphibious operations; gunnery, missile, anti-submarine and air defense exercises as well as counter-piracy, mine clearance operations, explosive ordnance disposal and diving and salvage operations.

RIMPAC 2012 will feature the first demonstration of a U.S. Navy "Great Green Fleet," during which U.S. surface combatants and carrier-based aircraft will test, evaluate and demonstrate the cross-platform utility and functionality of biofuels. This demonstration will also incorporate prototype energy efficiency initiatives such as solid state lighting, on-line gas turbine waterwash and energy management tools.

This year's exercise includes units or personnel from Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Thailand, Tonga, the United Kingdom and the United States.

During RIMPAC 2010, 507th aircraft flew 56 sorties refueling 314 aircraft while flying 224.9 hours and offloading more than 2 million and 248 thousand pounds of fuel. Wing officials say 2012 looks to surpass the previous totals. Air refueling support provided by the 507thARW during the previous six exercises totals 250 sorties refueling more than 900 aircraft while offloading 7 million 786 thousand pounds of fuel during 930.4 flying hours.