The U.S. Marine Corps has announced that Marines, with Marine Corps Installations Pacific, and Airmen with the 355th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron conducted hot-pit refueling training on Kadena Air Base, Japan.
The training helped increase the Marines’ and Airmen’s proficiency using a single-point refuel pump to refuel the F-35A Lightning II upon immediate landing. During this refueling method, the aircraft will keep one engine running, drastically increasing the response time in an operational environment.
“The goal of this class is to ensure Marines fully understand how to refuel an F-35A hot-pit and also follow an Agile Combat Employment (ACE) sustainment mentality,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Nicholas Williams, a crew chief with the 355th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron. “The Marines need to know how to refuel hot-pit because if the F-35A lands in the field, Marines are the first to respond. When they respond, their goal is to refuel the airplane and possibly fix what is damaged and put the aircraft back in the fight.”
Throughout the two-day training event, the Marines follow a crawl, walk, run style of learning. They began in a classroom environment, discussing similarities and differences between the two military branches. Next, they reviewed the parts of the aircraft, along with the safety and danger zones. After finishing the classroom portion of the training, they went to a parked F-35A jet and practiced a cold pit refuel and communication hand-arm signals. Lastly, they debriefed what they learned and expectations for the next day.
“This type of training we received, Marines are benefiting from because this is something we have been organizing for a while,” said Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Eric Pressman, a bulk fuel specialist with Marine Corps Air Station Futenma. “This training will broaden our spectrum to multiple platforms, to include rotary-wing and fixed-wing airframes, not just from the Marine Corps, but also our sister branches, the Air Force, Navy, Army. We also hope to use this training with coalition aircraft that come into the air station.”
During the second training day, the Marines conducted two final cold refuels, in the aircraft hangers, before heading to the flight line and preparing for incoming aircraft. A three-person team, including a fueler, an aircraft director, and an emergency fuel breaker, directed the jet to ensure it landed safely. Each jet took approximately 15 minutes to refuel before receiving guidance to proceed with their flight.
“This training shows everybody it does not matter what branch of service you are in because the Military Occupation Specialty is the same across the service,” said Pressman. “We all do things a little bit differently, but overall we do the same thing. When we branch out and study aircraft, vehicles, tactics, and weapons across all the branches of service, it sends the message that even though you are not a Marine, it does not mean you can not be lethal.”
Pressman explains his favorite part of the event was the hot pit refueling of the aircraft and seeing the display of the power of each vehicle. He enjoyed the feeling of being close to the jet and relying on one another as a team. After observing the Marines, Pressman was proud of their accomplishments throughout the training.
“Working with the bulk fueler Marines strengthens a new asset to the Air Force and allows us to be more capable in the future to continue our air superiority and reinforce our brotherhood, as one team, one fight mentality,” said Williams.