BY 13TH AIR FORCE, PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE – HICKAM AFB, HAWAII – Four 507th Air Refueling Wing KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft and more than 180 Air Force Reservists will join forces with the U.S. Navy in July to support a U.S. Pacific Fleet exercise.
The exercise, called Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC), is a series of multinational maritime exercises scheduled to take place in the Hawaiian operating area.
The main deployment headed for Hickam AFB, Hawaii will depart Monday, July 5. There will be a mid-July rotation to allow additional reservists to swap places and provide additional members to experience the joint operation. Most of the 507th ARW reservists and aircraft should return home by August 1.
Held biennially by U.S. Pacific Fleet, the 2010 RIMPAC exercise is the 22nd time it has been held and the 5th time supported by Oklahoma Air Force reservists.
Fourteen nations, 32 ships, five submarines, over 170 aircraft and 20,000 personnel will participate in the exercise in the Hawaiian operating area in and around the islands of Hawaii. In addition to U.S. military forces, military units from Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Netherlands, Peru, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand, and the United States will participate. The countries of Brazil, India, New Zealand, and Uruguay will send observers.
RIMPAC helps to improve leadership at all levels, increases personnel proficiency, and aids leadership’s ability to adapt to rapid changes. For the naval forces involved, the exercise offers the opportunity for forces to hone their skills – from disaster response to anti-piracy operations in a complex and challenging multinational environment designed to improve cooperation and command and control operations.
The exercise is split into four distinct phases – Harbor, Schedule of Events, Force Integration Training (FIT), and Tactical. During the Harbor phase, participants will continue to build on the relationships developed during the planning conferences. Throughout this phase, participants will finalize the plans developed over the last 12 months, compete in sporting events, and attend nation-themed social events.
During the Schedule of Events phase, maritime participants will work in smaller, multinational groups to rehearse and conduct gunnery, missile, anti-submarine, and air defense exercises, as well as maritime interdiction and vessel boarding, explosive ordnance disposal training, diving and salvage training, mine clearance activities, and support an amphibious landing. The land component will operate as a multinational force, conducting amphibious landings, assaults and fire support coordination exercises. The Marine Corps war-fighting lab will test enhanced company operations. The air component will fly a variety of sorties involving attack aircraft, bombers, tankers, electronic warfare, and airlift.
The Force Integration Training (FIT) phase provides a forum for integrated training with air, land and maritime forces to rehearse for the tactical phase. This phase also provides an opportunity for staff ashore to exercise operational level planning.
Finally, during the Tactical Phase, participants will transition into the execution of a warlike scenario consisting of unscheduled events where participants will have the opportunity to operate as they would during a real-world contingency or combat operation.
For the 507th Air Force reservists involved, RIMPAC offers a unique opportunity to directly integrate into a joint environment complete with refueling operations involving naval aircraft not normally encountered.
According to Lt. Col. Gerald Malloy, now currently advance-deployed to Hickam AFB, Hawaii, “This will be the fifth time our wing has been requested by name to support this exercise,” The mission objective for the reservists is to establish operations and conduct air-refueling as tasked by the Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC). “We will receive our daily Air Tasking Orders from the Pacific Fleet. During previous exercises, we found our aircraft heavily engaged and flying 3-4 missions; daily refueling a variety of aircraft,” Malloy said. Most missions range from 2-4 hours in duration.
During RIMPAC 2008, 507th aircraft flew 64 sorties for 257 hours and offloaded more than 2.2 million pounds of fuel during the month-long exercise and wing officials believe 2010 looks to surpass the previous totals.