U.S. Marines with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152 "Sumos" conducted night air delivered ground refueling with the U.S. Army 4-160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR) during unit-level training Evergreen at Gray Army Airfield, Aug. 15, 2017.
Using one of the squadron's KC-130J Hercules, the Marines deployed a mobile gas station for rotary-wing aircraft. Running hoses from the KC-130J in a tactical manner allowed aircraft to taxi in, receive fuel and continue on their way with no delay.
"Air delivered ground refueling is more versatile and mobile than a hot fuel pit," said U.S. Marine Corps 1st Lt. Brad Andre, a copilot with VMGR-152. "You can bring fuel to austere locations. Refueling on the ground is also less of a workload for all units involved and doesn't require the massive amount of airspace that a refueling track needs. All that's needed for an air delivered ground refueling site is a place for the KC-130 to land, and a ramp or taxiway to set up the hoses."
The Sumos seized the opportunity during the joint training to give instruction on set up and operation of an air delivered ground refueling with the 4-160th SOAR's airborne service detachment.
"Cross training with other units and other branches reinforces our mindset of joint operations," said Andre. "VMGR-152 gets to learn how the 160th conducts their operations and vice-versa. The more we can be exposed to different units and train with them, the smoother joint operations will be in the future. By allowing soldiers to observe our Marines setting up and conducting the air delivered ground refueling site, they'll have a better grasp of what we're looking for when we show up, and we have a better idea of what they're expecting from us."
VMGR-152 also used the air delivered ground refueling as an opportunity to train in a different location.
"To make the scenario more life-like, we needed to actually set up the refueling site in a location other than where we're basing our flight operations out of," said Andre. "If an actual site is required, it's going to be because there are units far away from readily available resources (in this case fuel), so we need to train with that mindset. Setting up an air delivered ground refueling site without flying the aircraft to a different location has the potential to cause complacency in the crew's planning and execution."
Through aggressive training and meticulous attention to detail, Marines and soldiers continue to enhance combat readiness during unit-level training Evergreen.
"Everyone involved performed exactly how you'd want them to if this were an operational event and not just a training evolution," said Andre. "Everything was done per the standard operating procedures and all timelines were met or beat. I was impressed by the professionalism of not only our own aircrew but the army unit we worked with. It's exactly what you want to see from any military unit."