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Aviation Brigade Practices “Fat Cow” Fueling Operation

By Sgt. Sarah Sangster | 25th Combat Aviation Brigade | Feb. 13, 2020

WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD, Hawaii — “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” - African Proverb

Working together is exactly what petroleum supply specialists from Echo Co. 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th Infantry Division and 3rd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, did to refuel three Black hawks and an Apache attack helicopter during training in Forward Arming and Refueling Point (FARP) procedures at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii Feb. 5, 2020.

Soldiers practice fueling procedures by utilizing a field expedient method commonly referred to as “Fat Cow.” This method consists of using the CH-47F Chinook helicopter from Bravo Co, 3-25 as a fuel source for other aircraft.

“There is no fancy name for this exercise; It's called “Fat Cow” because it's a big aircraft full of fuel,” said Capt. Brendan Brye, commander of Bravo Co. 3-25.
“We conduct Fat Cows at least every quarter for training and certification of leaders and fuelers. We also have executed them for real world scenarios and built into future air assault operations.”

“I just got out of advanced individual training and that was my first time fueling helicopters,” said Spc. Melissa Munisar, petroleum supply specialists assigned to Echo Co. 2-25. “For me it is a little terrifying because I feel ultimately responsible if one of the birds is unable to finish the mission due to lack of fuel. But at the same time I feel very proud because the mission was able to get done and I was happy to be a part of it.”

“Depending on the configuration, a CH-47 can hold up to three external fuel tanks with a total capacity of 2,400 gallons (16,000 lbs), however we usually only utilize the one tank (800 gallon/5400 lb option) during training,” said Brye.

This method allows for Forward Arming and Refueling Points (FARP) in areas where ground resources may not be feasible. A “Fat Cow” is a rapidly employed FARP that is ideally suited for short duration, forward operations. It is also cleared within minutes and utilizes pressure refuel for faster aircraft turnaround times.

“Fat Cow exercises not only build the capability and readiness of the unit, but the event serves as a mechanism for junior leaders (both Aviation and Forward Support) to coordinate across the aviation brigade and develop a better understanding of each airframe's unique capabilities,” said Brye. “It provides forward elements (usually AH-64's) a quick refuel and rearm so they can get back to the fight and provide more station time (so they don't have to come all the way back to friendly lines).

“My platoon has a very simple motto, ‘We Don’t Stop!’,” said Sgt. Kevin Henry, a petroleum supply specialists assigned to Echo Co. 3-25. “Whether my brothers and sisters in arms need fuel in the air or on ground this NCO is going to get you there five gallons at a time.”

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