CAMP HIGASHI-CHITOSE, Japan - U.S. Army and the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force aviation personnel exchanged helicopter refueling procedures during Orient Shield 14 here Oct. 28.
"Having this type of training allows us to identify each other's capabilities, share techniques and build relationships now, so if we need to come together to support a humanitarian mission or in the event of a man-made or natural disaster, we're better able to work together," explained Staff Sgt. Vincent Weir, a Petroleum Systems Section sergeant, assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 25th Combat Aviation Regiment from Wheeler Field, Hawaii.
The aviation refuelers are supporting Soldiers from the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, and JGSDF members from the 11th Infantry Regiment, 7th Division, Northern Army conducting field training exercises Oct. 27 - Nov. 7.
Weir, along with his fellow refuelers and roughly 40 JGSDF counterparts, discussed the similarities and differences in their respective aircraft and fueling procedures before moving onto hands-on instruction and eventually fueling helicopters.
"The exchange went very well because refuelers on both sides are already familiar with the basic concepts, it was the differences in refueling vehicle types and procedures that really held everyone's attention," Weir explained.
The largest portion of the exchange focused on the U.S. Army's Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck or HEMTT Tanker Aviation Refueling System called HTARS, which, according to Weir, is a really long name for a large fuel tanker truck.
The HTAR System is a light-weight, rapidly assembled refueling system used with a HEMTT tanker. The system can fuel up to four aircraft at the same time and the couplings are designed to prevent fuel from flowing if the connections are not made properly. The system includes four different nozzle types that are NATO compatible, so the U.S. can fuel allied aircraft if needed, Weir explained.
"Our counterparts were very engaged in learning about the system's characteristics and components, but really liked the opportunity to see it in action," Weir said.
"It was very different to fuel the U.S. helicopter, it was a little hard with many more switches," said Sgt. Yuta Kurita, a crew chief assigned to the JGSDF 7th Aviation unit from Sapporo, Japan.
"The instruction we receive from U.S. was very good, so I was able to refuel the helicopter, I am very pleased that I do this," Kurita exclaimed.