Defense

June 12, 2013

KC-130s, F-35s hook up for refueling operations

An F-35B Lightning II with Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 takes on fuel during a training exercise over the Gulf of Mexico May 30. Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252 flew from Cherry Point to refuel the aircraft in support of VMAT-501’s training requirements and to maintain their own proficiency in aerial refueling.

Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252 refueled two F-35B Lightnings of Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 over the Gulf of Mexico during a training exercise May 30.

Refueling is a major part of VMGR-252’s mission. The squadron’s pilots train repeatedly for aerial refueling missions, which they then perform when detachments from the squadron are sent out for training exercises and in support of contingency operations.

Capt. Jonathan Buckland, one of the pilots on the mission, deployed with a detachment Sunday in support of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which carries three different kinds of aircraft capable of being refueled by air.

“The training maintains our proficiency to make sure when we do these missions overseas, we can execute them without flaw,” said Buckland. “We’ve done it dozens of times and the crew is very proficient at this, but maybe something different will happen that I’ve never seen before, and that will further prepare me. Each mission has something to learn.”

The 26th MEU carries AV-8B Harriers, MV-22B Ospreys, and CH-53E Super Stallions, all of which can refuel by VMGR-252’s KC-130Js. Each different model of aircraft, however, has special considerations when linking up for a refueling mission.

Lance Cpl. Andrew A. Sandoval, a crew master with the squadron, watches refueling missions outside a window in the back of the aircraft to make sure nothing goes wrong. When refueling jets like Harriers or Lightnings, he watches to make sure the jets are in a stable flight. While refueling jets, the tanker is moving as fast as it can, but the jets are moving nearly as slow as they can, which can make them harder to control.

Two F-25B Lightning IIs with Marine fighter Attack Squadron 501 fly off the wingtip of a KC-130 Hercules of Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252 after a refueling mission over the Gulf of Mexico May 30, 2013. VMGR-252 practices aerial refueling regularly and uses their abilities to extend the operational range of Marine aviation.

Conversely, helicopters like the Super Stallion are flying as fast as they can while the tanker is moving as slow as it can. The crew master watches the refueling hose, drogue, probe and aircraft so he can relay directions to the pilots to prevent any accidents.

Ospreys and the tankers move at about the same speed. However, their large rotors present a possible collision hazard that the crew master monitors.

According to Sandoval, watching aerial refueling is about 40 percent of his job, which he does to maintain the safety of the aircraft, pilots, crew and passengers.

“You could theoretically do it all with nobody there, but it’s not worth the risk,” Sandoval said.

Buckland said the operational payoff is that the tanker aircraft can greatly improve the range of a MEU’s aviation component. Because the KC-130J is too large to operate from the flight deck of Navy ships, the detachment operates from friendly countries as close to the ships as possible. When aircraft need refueling, the detachment can intercept them en route for uel, allowing those aircraft to reach destinations that would normally be outside of their range.

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Army photograph by David Vergun

Senior leaders explain Army’s drawdown plan

Army photograph by David Vergun No commander is happy when notified that a soldier from his or her command has been identified for early separation. But commanders personally notify those Soldiers and ensure participation in th...
 
 
Lockheed Martin photograph by Beth Groom

F-35 Rollout Marks U.S.-Australia Partnership Milestone

Lockheed Martin photograph by Beth Groom Royal Australian Air Force Air Marshal Geoff Brown delivers his remarks at the roll out ceremony for Australia’s first F-35. The official rollout of the first two F-35 Lightning II...
 
 
Air Force photograph by A1C Erin OíShea

U.S. Forces display military might at Farnborough

Air Force photograph by A1C Erin O’Shea Capt. Tom Meyers discusses the F-15E Strike Eagle’s capabilities with spectators July 17, 2014, at the Farnborough International Airshow in England. Public access was granted ...
 

 
raptors4

Raptors, Falcons fuel up in desert skies

Three U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors assigned to the 325th Fighter Wing, Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., fly alongside a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 93rd Air Refueling Squadron, Fairchild AFB, Wash., during Red Flag 14-3, Ju...
 
 
Air Force photograph by A1C Thomas Spangler

Sun sets on Red Flag 14-3

Air Force photograph by A1C Thomas Spangler The sun sets behind a row of F-16 Fighting Falcons during Red Flag 14-3, July 16, 2014, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Red Flag provides a series of intense air-to-air combat scenario...
 
 
Air Force photograph by SSgt. Siuta B. Ika

AOC integral to Red Flag 14-3 operations

Air Force photograph by SSgt. Siuta B. Ika Members of the Air and Space Operations Center work during Red Flag 14-3 operations July 22, 2014, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Armed with personnel from intelligence and communicati...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>