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909th ARS conducts F-35 inaugural refueling

U.S. Air Force Capt. Matt Davis, 909th Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 Stratotanker pilot, flies in formation with U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning IIs from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, March 14, 2017, over the Pacific Ocean. The training sortie marked the first air refueling mission with F-35s in the 909th ARS’s area of operation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman John Linzmeier)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Matt Davis, 909th Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 Stratotanker pilot, flies in formation with U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning IIs from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, March 14, 2017, over the Pacific Ocean. The training sortie marked the first air refueling mission with F-35s in the 909th ARS’s area of operation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman John Linzmeier)

A U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II from the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, approaches the boom of a KC-135 Stratotanker from the 909th Air Refueling Squadron for an inflight refuel March 14, 2017, over the Pacific Ocean. The F-35B brings strategic agility, operational flexibility, and tactical supremacy to the Pacific with a mission radius greater than that of the F/A-18 Hornet and AV-8B Harrier II in support of the U.S. and Japan alliance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman John Linzmeier)

A U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II from the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, approaches the boom of a KC-135 Stratotanker from the 909th Air Refueling Squadron for an inflight refuel March 14, 2017, over the Pacific Ocean. The F-35B brings strategic agility, operational flexibility, and tactical supremacy to the Pacific with a mission radius greater than that of the F/A-18 Hornet and AV-8B Harrier II in support of the U.S. and Japan alliance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman John Linzmeier)

U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning IIs from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 fly in formation next to a U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker from the 909th Air Refueling Squadron March 14, 2017, over Pacific waters. The F-35B is a fifth-generation fighter, which is the world’s first operational supersonic short takeoff and vertical landing aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman John Linzmeier)

U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning IIs from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 fly in formation next to a U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker from the 909th Air Refueling Squadron March 14, 2017, over Pacific waters. The F-35B is a fifth-generation fighter, which is the world’s first operational supersonic short takeoff and vertical landing aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman John Linzmeier)

U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning IIs from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, fly in formation with a KC-135 Stratotanker from the 909th Air Refueling Squadron March 14, 2017, over the Pacific Ocean. The two units conducted aerial refueling for the first time within the 909th’s area of operation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman John Linzmeier)

U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning IIs from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, fly in formation with a KC-135 Stratotanker from the 909th Air Refueling Squadron March 14, 2017, over the Pacific Ocean. The two units conducted aerial refueling for the first time within the 909th’s area of operation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman John Linzmeier)

A U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II from the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, approaches the boom of a KC-135 Stratotanker from the 909th Air Refueling Squadron for an inflight refuel March 14, 2017, over the Pacific Ocean. The 909th ARS provides combat-ready KC-135 tanker aircrews to support peacetime operations and all levels of conflict in the Indo-Asia-Pacific theater. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman John Linzmeier)

A U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II from the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, approaches the boom of a KC-135 Stratotanker from the 909th Air Refueling Squadron for an inflight refuel March 14, 2017, over the Pacific Ocean. The 909th ARS provides combat-ready KC-135 tanker aircrews to support peacetime operations and all levels of conflict in the Indo-Asia-Pacific theater. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman John Linzmeier)

A U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II from the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, approaches the boom of a KC-135 Stratotanker from the 909th Air Refueling Squadron for an inflight refuel March 14, 2017, over the Pacific Ocean. The 909th ARS is an essential component to the mid-air refueling of a multitude of aircraft ranging from fighter jets to cargo planes from different services and nations in the region. The 909th ARS is stationed at Kadena Air Base, Japan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman John Linzmeier)

A U.S. Marine Corps F-35B Lightning II from the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, approaches the boom of a KC-135 Stratotanker from the 909th Air Refueling Squadron for an inflight refuel March 14, 2017, over the Pacific Ocean. The 909th ARS is an essential component to the mid-air refueling of a multitude of aircraft ranging from fighter jets to cargo planes from different services and nations in the region. The 909th ARS is stationed at Kadena Air Base, Japan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman John Linzmeier)

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan --

The 909th Air Refueling Squadron conducted the inaugural aerial-refueling mission with F-35B Lightning IIs from the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, March 14, over the Pacific Ocean. 

This is the first time the 909th ARS performed air-to-air refueling with F-35B’s within their area of operation, making the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121 one of 26 flying units currently supported by the 18th Wing. Kadena AB also delivers fuel to aircraft from the U.S. Navy and Republic of Korea Air Force.  

“The way we operate between services is almost transparent,” said Capt. Erik Cadorette, 909th ARS pilot. “We're not going to operate any differently if are working with our sister services or our allies. They can request gas from us at any point and there's not a lot to change in order for us to work with them.” 

The F-35s conducted a permanent change of station to the Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force in January. They are fifth-generation fighters and the world’s first operational supersonic short takeoff and vertical landing aircraft. 

The inaugural mission was a key step toward supporting the fifth-generation fighters, said Caddorette. He added that the initial training experience was a valuable opportunity for his aircrew because it enables them to prepare other pilots and boom operators for future F-35 operations.  

The 909th’s motto is ‘always there,’ symbolizing their unwavering presence and readiness to support partners who protect and stabilize the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region.  

Stratotankers have provided the core aerial refueling capability for the U.S. Air Force for nearly 60 years and have empowered fighter aircraft for generations, from the F-4 Phantom to today’s most advanced weapon systems.

“It is crazy to realize that we’ve got these KC-135 that have been made in the late 50’s and early 60’s and are still capable of meeting up with these  new F-35s,” said Capt. Matt Davis, 909th ARS pilot. “It's a tale of two worlds for sure.”