Armor & Mobility

FEB 2017

Military magazines in the United States and Canada, covering Armor and Mobility, focuses on tactical vehicles, C4ISR, Special Operations Forces, latest soldier equipment, shelters, and key DoD programs

Issue link: http://armormobility.epubxp.com/i/783798

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Under the cover of darkness, a team of specially trained Airmen stand by a tanker aircraft in preparation for a covert refueling operation. The group waits as helicopters hover-taxi within 300 feet of one another and the tanker aircraft. Once the helicopters are in range, the awaiting Airmen rush to haul more than 760 feet of refueling hoses to the aircraft to transfer the necessary fuel needed for them to get back into the fight. Due to the covert nature of these operations, aircraft lights are shut off so they can remain undetected by enemy forces, making the Airmen's use of night vision goggles essential. Even with the use of night vision, connecting a tanker aircraft to a receiver aircraft via their fueling connections can be tough, but for the team's forward area refueling point (FARP) Airmen, this operation is just a normal night out in the field. Addressing a Historic Need FARP is a United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) program under the management of the 1st Special Operations Logistics Readiness Squadron that trains petroleum, oils and lubrication (POL) Airmen to become FARP technicians. These men and women perform covert nighttime refueling operations in deployed locations where fueling points are not accessible or when air-to-air refueling is not possible. FARP acts as a mobile gas station for aircraft enabling one aircraft to transfer fuel to another with a small pump, hoses and Airmen capable of getting the job done. "Special Operations Forces (SOF) are required to execute missions that conventional forces can't," said Lt. Col. John Klohr, commander of the 1st Special Operations Logistics Readiness Squadron (SOLRS). "The FARP skill set extends the range and loiter time of aircraft and vehicles enabling small SOF teams to have an impact over a wider geographical area. Such an advantage enables SOF to achieve the element of surprise any time, any place from remote areas in Southwest Asia or North Africa in order to bring the full brunt of special operations to bear on our enemies." Historically, hot refuels or refueling while the aircraft's engines are running, have been used in times of war as means for assets to return to battle faster. "The German Air Force used the concept on the Eastern Front [by] using a series of satellite locations located near the front and manned only when operations dictated where pilots landed to refuel and rearm," said Todd Schroeder, the staff historian with Air Force Special Operations Command. "In Vietnam, the United States Army [used this concept] as a way of returning their helicopters to the air sooner by landing at established FARP points close to the battle area." OWNING THE NIGHT Airmen assigned to the 1st Special Operations Logistics Readiness Squadron conduct a hot refuel on a U-28A during forward area refueling point training on Hurlburt Field, FL. FARP first came about after the 1980 Iran hostage rescue attempt. Following this mission, the Air Force realized the need for a highly-efficient way to transfer fuel from one aircraft to another, in non-standard and hostile environments. (USAF photo/Airman Kai L. White) www.tacticaldefensemedia.com 16 | Armor & Mobility | February 2017

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