ALPENA, Mich. — Air Mobility Command petroleum, oils and lubricants Airmen pushed the boundaries of Agile Combat Employment and how it pertains to expeditiously refueling aircraft during Exercise Mobility Guardian, May 15-27, 2021.
Throughout the exercise, POL Airmen received hands-on training on the Aerial Bulk Fuel Delivery System, Fuels Operational Readiness Capability Equipment mobile fuel bladder, wet-wing defuel and hot-pit refuel operations.
“Without fuel, the Air Force mission does not get accomplished,” said Staff Sgt. Garrett Huntoon, 374th Logistic Readiness Squadron fuels service center controller. “Mobility Guardian offers a training environment to test capabilities of how we can provide fuel in different environments and change the way we get after ACE.”
The ABFDS, a portable 3,000-gallon fuel bladder, can be loaded on a C-130J Super Hercules, C-5 Galaxy, or C-17 Globemaster III and transported anywhere around the world. A fighter, helicopter or ground vehicle simply pulls next to the respective aircraft and receives fuel while engines remain on, allowing them to quickly refuel and carry on with the mission with minimal time spent on the ground.
“The Air Force is taking notice and seeing the capabilities the ABFDS brings to the fight and is pushing that concept forward,” said Master Sgt. Jared Bicker, Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center Fuels operator. “If we want to maintain that flexibility and air combat effectiveness, then we need exercises like this to push initiatives such as these that make an impact on the way we operate.”
FORCE is a 210,000-gallon bladder that is generally set up in deployed environments negating the need to build hardened tanks or bring fuel trucks, while simultaneously reducing the overall footprint by not leaving hardened facilities behind.
“By reducing the footprint, these refueling initiatives allow aircraft to continuously hop around a wide array of locations within shorter timeframes – exponentially boosting capabilities and keeping the enemy guessing,” Huntoon said.
POL also participates in wet-wing defueling and hot-pit refueling operations. While neither of these concepts are new, under the scope of contingency operations, these are not commonly executed within the same mission set.
Wet-wing defueling is the offloading of fuel from an aircraft onto an R-11 fuel truck, all while engines are still running. POL can then turn and hot-pit refuel a fighter aircraft. Hot-pit refueling occurs when an aircraft is fueled immediately after landing, while the aircraft keeps one engine running.
These refueling capabilities showcase the agility of mobility aircraft while demonstrating the global reach AMC provides across the Air Force.
“This exercise is conducive to a more effective and agile Air Force,” said Master Sgt. Patrick King, AMC logistics readiness manager. “AMC POL Airmen generally don’t get hands-on time with these operations unless they are in a deployed environment. Mobility Guardian offers an opportunity to experiment with these concepts before having to use them in a real-world scenario.”