203rd Air Refueling Squadron to help fuel fight against Daesh
By Senior Airman Orlando Corpuz, 154th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published February 08, 2016
JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM -- More than 50 members of the Hawaii Air National Guard based at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam have deployed to Southwest Asia to join in the fight against Daesh.
Three KC-135 Stratotankers belonging to the 203rd Air Refueling Squadron, along with flight and maintenance crews and other support personnel, left JBPHH this weekend for Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar.
While deployed, the main mission of the 203rd ARS will be to provide aerial refueling to coalition aircraft in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.
"The primary mission of giving gas to the receiver....that's what we're doing." said a 203rd ARS deploying crew member. "That's our bread and butter there in the AOR [area of responsibility]".
The unit joins an 18-nation air coalition against Daesh as part of a four month Air Expeditionary Force rotation.
According to U.S. Central Command, Daesh is operationally on the defensive in the areas where the Coalition is operating and supporting indigenous ground forces, primarily in Iraq and Syria.
Aerial refueling allows for extended range and persistence of Coalition air operations in Iraq and Syria, enabling the Coalition aircraft to maintain a 24/7 presence over areas Daesh operates in, holding targets they value at risk.
"You never know who you are going to meet out there as far as receiver aircraft." said the 203rd crew member. "When we have a certain mission there's all the safety precautions that we use as far as altitude and de-confliction....so that right before they take gas we're in a safe position and everyone is set."
The unit has deployed to the US CENTCOM AOR numerous times. This most recent deployment is similar to a rotation during the summer and fall of 2014.
While the 203rd ARS is just starting its deployment, another HIANG unit, the 199th Fighter Squadron, with its F-22 Raptor aircraft and airmen is just past the halfway mark of its assignment in the Southwest Asia. The 199th FS and active duty 19th FS deployed to the US CENTCOM AOR in September.
US CENTCOM AOR encompasses the area of Southwest Asia and most of the Middle East.