PATRICK SPACE FORCE BASE, Fla. --
920th Rescue Wing Airmen partnered with Forward Area Refueling Point (FARP) specialists from Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, last month to conduct FARP training for the first time here.
FARP provides the fuel necessary for helicopter and fixed-wing operations to continue their mission while reducing the vulnerability of forward deployed forces by taking gas from the HC-130J Combat King II aircraft and passing it into another airframe on the ground using a system of hoses. The ability to refuel aircraft in this manner at forward airfields and in austere environments by conducting FARP to refuel aircraft is a specialty that furthers the 920th RQW’s worldwide agile combat employment.
“This capability adds another item to our bag of tools,” said Lt. Col. Matt Winkler, 39th RQS director of operations. “We’re going to be doing more of this because we are now qualified and we will have a site on the installation. Ultimately, this expands our CSAR mission and our global reach.”
The operational concept driving worldwide agile combat employment is to leverage networks of air bases, multi-capable Airmen, and airlift to rapidly deploy, disperse and maneuver combat capability throughout a theater. Paired with aircraft fueling, arming and limited maintenance activities, ACE expands the number of bases from which the Air Force generates combat sorties.
39th RQS Airmen were tested in their ability to quickly and safely establish the FARP site during daylight hours but also wearing night vision goggles at nighttime because FARP can take place anytime.
Once the aircraft is at the designated FARP site, loadmasters and FARP Airmen will quickly exit and begin connecting the hose and pump to the single point refueling panel on the side of the HC-130J. Once connected to the SPR, more Airmen will exit the aircraft and sprint three 100ft sections of hose until they reach the designated refueling point where they would then begin to connect to the aircraft receiving the fuel.
The HC-130J’s mission as the only dedicated fixed-wing personnel recovery platform in the Air Force inventory is to rapidly deploy to execute combatant-commander directed recovery operations to austere airfields and denied territory for expeditionary, all weather personnel recovery operations to include airdrop, air land, helicopter air-to-air refueling, and forward area ground refueling missions.
The variety of missions that the HC-130J aircraft can be used for means loadmasters must be ready to perform a variety of tasks every time the aircraft takes off. One of the newest members of the 39th RQS recently came from the C-130 schoolhouse in Little Rock, Arkansas, where he’d been a loadmaster instructor for the for the last decade.
“FARP is specifically a rescue and special ops function so I never had any training or experience with this platform,” said Tech. Sgt. Steven Van Epps, 39th RQS loadmaster . “Having been able to have hands on, working alongside the 'FARPies' for this training, gave me a better understanding of the operations the rescue world is capable of.”