BANGOR, Maine — The MAINEiacs are doing what they are trained for — refueling U.S. military aircraft — in connection with the U.N.-sanctioned aerial attacks on Libya.
“I can confirm they’ve refueled some aircraft used in Libya,” Maj. Gen. John W. Libby, adjutant general of the Maine National Guard, said Wednesday afternoon of the Maine Air National Guard’s 101st Air Refueling Wing.
The MAINEiacs have 10 KC-135 aircraft, which essentially are flying gas stations that can refuel other airplanes, a crucial function during wartime and disasters, Lt. Col. Debbie Kelley, a spokeswoman for 101st, said Tuesday.
The refueling wing is based in Bangor, a key airstrip because of its location, she said.
“We’ve been consistently involved in almost every military mission” the U.S. undertakes, Kelley said.
During testimony before a Maine legislative panel on Tuesday, Libby was asked whether the Bangor air refueling wing was at all assisting with the coalition of European and United States forces in Libya.
Libby said the MAINEiacs are playing a key role in supporting the military operation in Libya.
“All you have to do is drive by the base” to see activity, he said.
U.S. officials have said that allied forces have hobbled Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s air defenses and artillery and rescued rebel forces from defeat.
The Bangor base refueled more than 1,100 aircraft in the last year and now handles or manages nearly 15 percent of the air refueling missions worldwide for the U.S. military and its allies, Kelley has said. In addition to the in-flight refueling done locally, the Bangor base also coordinates and schedules refueling for bases in New Hampshire, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
As part of a Northeast tanker task force, “we have a lot of flexibility and can be tasked for whatever they need,” Kelley said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.