Two US Air Force B-1B Lancers recently completed hot-pit refueling with the new Versatile Integrated Partner Equipment Refueling (VIPER) kit, at the Spangdahlem air base in Germany.
Spangdahlem AB employed the VIPER kit on October 11 by refueling B-1s participating in Bomber Task Force – Europe 22-1, following NATO allied integration during an operation in the Baltic Region.
The bombers are assigned to the Dyess Air Force Base’s 9th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, and are currently operating from Royal Air Force Fairford, England.
This evolution marked the first time the refueling system was used outside of F-16 Fighting Falcons in the US Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa theatre.
“The innovation is hopefully going to change the standard for how we do our jobs,” said Master Sgt. Jason Yunker, 52nd Logistic Readiness Squadron operations superintendent and VIPER kit co-creator. “Today was monumental in showcasing the VIPER kit’s ability to put the ‘agile’ in agile combat employment and not just supporting our F-16s, but with any aircraft.”
In February 2021, the VIPER kit was a top-five finalist in the AFWERX Spark Tank and received $1.2 million in funding to complete the project.
In June 2020, Polish Air Force members assisted fueling a US Air Force F-16 during one of the 480th Fighter Squadron’s Aviation Detachment Rotations, using Polish fuel trucks. This marked the first time a non-USAF fuel truck was used and a large step towards partner nation integration.
“The agile combat employment concept ensures our multi-capable airmen can sustain and execute missions from austere locations throughout Europe,” said Col. Leslie Hauck, 52nd Fighter Wing commander. “Spangdahlem’s strategic location supports a range of fighter, mobility, and bomber missions and the Sabers building the innovative advancements our forces need to support the all-domain warfighter.”
The VIPER kit utilizes host nation refueling equipment to support US Air Force aircraft anywhere in the world. In the most simplistic sense, the VIPER kit functions as a universal fuel adaptor. The kit is projected to save US Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa nearly $1.3 million annually in fuel truck-shipping alone and doesn’t account for the cost associated with the additional support teams. By the end of 2021, USAFE is expected to distribute an additional 23 VIPER kits to various locations throughout Europe and the Pacific, bringing this capability to operations around the globe.