The flight included the first ever hot-pit refuel of a bomber aircraft in Europe. “Hot pitting,” or refueling the aircraft while the engines are on and the crew remains in the cockpit, drastically reduces refueling times so that bombers can more rapidly return to the skies. In addition to this historic first, the B-1 integrated with Swedish JAS-39 Gripen fighters, Polish F-16 Fighting Falcons and Danish F-16s. The B-1 also conducted aerial refueling with a KC-135 Stratotanker from the 100th Air Refueling Wing, Royal Air Force Mildenhall, United Kingdom.
Hot-pit refueling is a pillar of Agile Combat Employment, which enhances bombers’ ability to rapidly deploy and operate from remote locations with varying levels of capacity and support. ACE increases lethality, strengthens interoperability and advances efficiency in accomplishing the mission.
“Proving the rapid refueling concept today in Poland alongside some of our closest allies speaks for itself,” said Gen. Jeff Harrigian, U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa commander. “Our bombers can get after the mission anytime, anywhere.”
Bomber Task Force missions demonstrate U.S. commitment to the collective defense of the NATO alliance and are a visible demonstration of the U.S. capability of extended deterrence.