MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Misawa F-16 Fighting Falcon pilots, in collaboration with Kadena Air Base Airmen, executed a unique refueling capability for the first time at Misawa Air Base, Japan, June 25.
“Forward area refueling point” entails the rapid transfer of fuel from one aircraft to another. On this occasion, an MC-130J Commando II and four F-16 Fighting Falcons completed the procedure with all engines running. This capability makes it possible for fighter aircraft to land, replenish fuel and return to air-battle operations within a short timeframe in austere environments.
“This capability adds another toolset to facilitate rapid force deployment and is part of the basis of the [Agile Combat Employment] concept,” said Maj. Walter Studley, the 35th Fighter Wing Inspector General director of wing inspections.
The FARP program is designed to train petroleum, oils and lubricants (POL) Airmen for covert refueling operations in deployed locations where fueling stations are not accessible or when air-to-air refueling is not possible.
“It was a new concept to perform FARP refuels on F-16s here at Misawa AB,” said Staff Sgt. Trey Branch, an 18th Logistics readiness Squadron FARP team member. “It was an awesome experience and I am glad to participate in this training opportunity despite the pandemic.”
Members of the 18th LRS and 1st Special Operations Squadron validated their FARP training and certified five crewmembers on the procedures, while Misawa Airmen observed the refueling capability.
“Our POL Airmen witnessed an exciting assignment opportunity as a ‘FARPie,’” said Studley. “Our crew chiefs were able to provide F-16 specific training for the MC-130 crews, and our pilots saw an ACE refueling capability in action.”
When a fighter squadron has FARP support, options are vastly increased, as any accessible airfield or island can be used to replenish fighters and send them back to the fight.
Studley continued saying that the training demonstrates another milestone in the ACE program overall.
“The more we get comfortable with these capabilities in training, means the more effective they will be if we ever need to use them,” said Studley.