U.S. Army Europe Soldiers show off advantages of Army's Forward Arming and Refueling Point system
October 18, 2013
Soldiers from U.S. Army Europe's 1st Battalion, 214th Aviation Regiment here demonstrated the effectiveness of Forward Arming and Refueling Point fueling operations during a training session observed by members of the Defense Logistic Agency's Europe and Africa program and an exchange officer with the French Army's military fuel service.
The event was coordinated by members of the Petroleum and Water Branch of the USAREUR logistics directorate (G4).
The Oct. 9 training focused on operating a FARP using the Army's Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT) Tanker Aviation Refueling System. The basic HTARS setup uses the HEMTT in its M978 tanker truck configuration as a fuel source, and employs multiple hoses and nozzles to create up to four temporary fuel points. FARP operations allow helicopters such as Black Hawks, Chinooks, Apaches and Kiowas to be serviced at forward locations quickly and safely while running, and rapidly returned to battle or training.
Sgt. Marlon Montufar, a petroleum supply specialist assigned to the 1-214th's distribution platoon, explained that a FARP can also be set up using sources such as rubber fuel bladders -- known as "blivets" in Army slang -- or in-ground tanks, and can be established at almost any location accessible to vehicles and helicopters.
The training began with a tour of the M978 carrying a 2,500-gallon tank, a fuel and water separator, and multiple hoses for dispensing fuel or removing fuel from aircraft and vehicles. The Soldiers explained each major part to create an overall picture of how the fuel system works from the tanker, through the hose and nozzles, and into the aircraft.
Safety is paramount in FARP operations. Fuel handlers scout and mark out FARP locations carefully to identify and mitigate possible hazards and ensure safe aircraft and fueling operations. They take measures to safeguard the environment as well, operating in a way that minimizes the risk of fuel spills and quickly stops and confines spills that do occur.
After making sure all safety checks and preparations had been completed, the command was given to allow a Black Hawk helicopter to land to receive fuel.
Replicating a real battlefield scenario, Montufar and Spc. Terrance Beal waited in a kneeling position until the aircraft's crew chief dismounted and gave the signal for them to approach the helicopter and dispense fuel.
Once in motion the operation moved quickly. Within minutes the aircraft was filled, the fuel nozzle detached from it and placed into a safety pan, and the fuel handlers returned to their kneeling position to wait for the Black Hawk to take off to return to the fight.
"They executed flawlessly," said 2nd Lt. Nalton Green, the distribution platoon leader. "They come out and they test the equipment, and when it is time to execute they can get up and go and get it done."
Maj. Cyrille Cardona, a military engineer with France's military fuel branch -- the Service des Essences des Armées -- was on hand to watch the fueling training.
Cardona said the training was very interesting and he was impressed by the fuel handlers' performance and the effective way the troops communicated during the mission.
He said learning the methods and equipment used by U.S. Soldiers here is a valuable asset that enhances interoperability and should pay off in future combined operations with French and American forces.
DLA-E/A, which provides combat logistics support to U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command, facilitated Cardona's visit as part of an officer exchange program designed to build skills and USAREUR's European partnerships. DLA-EA's Carl Varner said the program gives officers an opportunity to learn the various techniques and equipment used by their allies and partners. Under the program, exchange officers spend approximately three weeks observing training and operations at various U.S. units.