MORÓN AIR BASE, Spain --
Morón Air Base is located in the Andalusia region of Spain, surrounded by olive groves and sunflower fields. It is home to the 221st Escuadron and Wing 11 of the Spanish air force, U.S. Air Forces in Europe’s 496th Air Base Squadron, and Air Mobility Command’s 725th Air Mobility Squadron Detachment 1. The primary mission of the 496th ABS and Det 1 is to support the needs of the U.S. Air Force, projecting rapid global mobility and combat air power within Europe and Southwest Asia, as well as Africa.
One of the biggest responsibilities that the 496th ABS and Det 1 share each year is the Coronet mission. This mission occurs semi-annually and supports a major Air Expeditionary Force fighter aircraft swap-out between the U.S. and the Middle East. In short, twice a year, these major swap-outs mean fighters fly from the continental U.S. into Morón, where the aircraft receive necessary repairs and fuel and the crews rest and prepare for a deployment into the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. Once there, they relieve fighter units that have completed a six month deployment. These redeploying units then make their journey home via Morón.
Morón is currently three-quarters of the way through supporting such a fighter rotation. This particular Coronet mission will last almost 60 days and was preceded by countless hours of preparation and planning.
Once underway, the work most days is routine and the process flows smoothly, but on one particular day two weeks ago that was certainly not the case. Instead of the typical forecast of sunshine and reasonable temperatures, Morón was facing a forecast of thunderstorms and wind. Even if Morón had the best of weather, Team Morón still had a difficult mission that day: the launching of 19 aerial refueling tanker and fighter aircraft within one hour!
Despite the less-than-favorable weather, they pushed through and readied 14 F-15 Strike Eagle, three KC-135 Stratotanker, and two KC-10 Extender aircraft for departure. To pull this off, the 496th ABS’ fuels personnel first had to top off these 19 aircraft with a total of 548,000 pounds of jet fuel (equivalent to 100,000 gallons!). Next, Det 1 and 496th ABS transportation personnel had to ensure all crews and associated equipment were delivered to their aircraft in time to perform pre-flight checks.
As soon as the first F-15 broke the straight line that once defined the formation of 14 fighters atop the parking apron, the rain and wind intensified. Even in the face of this obstacle, the mix of Airmen from ACC, AMC and USAFE pressed on to accomplish their particular tasks. Despite the less-than-optimal conditions, the team stood its ground against the cold, wind, and rain and darted to and from aircraft, pulling chalks, relocating fire extinguishers, and synchronizing the block-out and ultimate on-time launch of all 19 aircraft! All-in-all, they collectively performed their respective rolls flawlessly and CRUSHED it!
Before this Coronet rotation is over, the Airmen at Morón Air Base will support many more deploying and redeploying fighters and tankers. When all is said and done, an impressive 2.5 million pounds of fuel will have been delivered by AMC’s aerial refueling aircraft to over 150 deploying and redeploying fighters, and the team of Airmen supporting this operation--having come together from multiple bases across Europe and the U.S.--will have demonstrated why the American Airmen make the U.S. Air Force the best in the world! AIRPOWER!