EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- Airmen from the 354th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels operations section and the 356th Aircraft Maintenance Unit worked together to conduct the first hot pit refueling operation for the F-35A Lightning II at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, on June 2, 2020.
“Hot pitting is the hot refueling of aircraft with engines running,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Heath N. Krogmann, the 354th LRS fuels operations section chief.
The 354th LRS and 356th AMU worked together beforehand to ensure their Airmen were ready to receive the F-35, execute their mission and get it back in the fight.
“We all have to have a program for this type of refueling operation,” said Krogmann.
The program is a three-step process which consists of classroom training, a supervised walkthrough allowing the Airmen a chance to observe hot pit refueling and concludes with the actual hot pit refueling operation.
“Through this phased approach we accomplish required training by working together. Individuals are then certified to perform the hot pits,” he said.
Hot pit refueling takes 30 minutes to an hour to execute, cutting the normal refueling time by half which enables pilots to take off into the skies quicker than normal.
Even in such a small window of time, a large amount of fuel can be supplied. More than 1,900 gallons of JP-8 jet fuel was supplied during this hot pit refueling.
The fuel and equipment are absolutely necessary but it is teamwork between 354th LRS and Eielson maintainers that ensures the mission continues seamlessly.
“Partnership is vital to producing airpower especially when it comes to hot pits,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Charles H. Nichols, the 354th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron assistant superintendent.
The role fuels operations plays during hot pit refueling is crucial and the Airmen within the section ensure the 354th Fighter Wing is prepared to project airpower.
“It allows the wing to utilize its equipment and people in a more efficient way,” said Krogmann. “It also allows our pilots to get back into the fight quicker.”
The first hot pit refueling operation on the F-35A at Eielson signifies an important milestone for the 354th Fighter Wing and the 356th Fighter Squadron as they posture for the future fight.