KADENA AIR BASE, Japan — Airmen from the 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron are making history refueling aircraft large and small using the Versatile Partner Equipment Refueling Kit (VIPER) for the first time at Kadena Air Base, Japan.
The team used the new equipment, purchased with Pacific Air Force Innovation funding, to refuel visiting KC-46 Pegasus aircraft, as well as locally stationed F-15C Eagles to reinforce the skills with VIPER kits while pushing the limits of the USAF. supply capabilities.
For Staff Sgt. Jason Yunker, 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels operations section chief, this new development is yet another milestone in a long road that started with an idea scribbled on a bar napkin. It’s now known throughout the Air Force as the VIPER kit, a universal system that can be fitted with multiple adapters to refuel different cells, much like a phone charger with adapters to charge different models of mobile phones.
This allows for more flexible and efficient resupply operations while enhancing the capabilities of joint forces around the world.
“It opens the door so that we can do the operations that we need to do to get the planes around quickly,” Yunker said. “So if we’re going to an airfield that already exists and has fuel infrastructure, we don’t need to bring our own fuel.”
Aligning with the Agile Combat Employment (ACE) concept, the VIPER kit enables rapid hot pit refueling of aircraft with any existing fuel infrastructure at dispersed austere bases, enhancing joint operation capabilities.
Maj. Eric Cadorette, director of operations for 18 Wing ACE, believes the VIPER kit is key to joint interoperability.
“In an ACE build, we won’t be able to fight alone. We’re going to need our partners and allies to be able to do that, and sometimes those places [we could operate from] won’t necessarily have the equipment we need to make sure our planes are full,” Cadorette said. “The VIPER kit will fill these gaps.”
Along with faster use of air power, the VIPER kit also saves approximately $17,000 in operations across Europe and can save up to $1 million in operations across the Pacific.
The time and money saved from the kit is a vital part of ACE, but it wouldn’t have been possible without the team’s innovative ideas, Yunker said.
“It wasn’t just me who brought him here, it was a whole team of people,” he said. “Without this team, this thing wouldn’t have gone anywhere.”
Along with strong teamwork, Yunker sees innovation as one of the most important aspects of ACE.
“It’s important for people to innovate because it opens up a new capability for us that we didn’t even know existed,” Yunker said. “Innovation is such a critical part of moving forward, not just for the individual, but for the Air Force and the business as a whole.”