Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni expands its refueling capabilities
By Cpl. Donato Maffin, Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- U.S. Marines with Logistics Department Fuels Division conducted the first hot refuel utilizing the new Aircraft Direct Fueling System with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron (VMGR) 152 at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, Oct. 19, 2017.
This training marked the first refueling evolution at the new hot refueling pit designed distribute fuel to Type-4 aircraft such as the KC-130J Hercules, MV-22 Osprey and MH-60 helicopter.
The new ADFS allows the aircraft to rotate crew, take on cargo or Marines and keep its engines running while accepting fuel.
“This is a game changer,” said Raoul Bolduc, station fuels operations officer. “If the aircraft were to be cold refueling, they would have to go back to the line, shut down, swap out the crew—it takes a lot more time to get the propellers and all this stuff back online. This way is faster and more efficient to get them back in the fight.”
The successful completion of the KC-130J hot refuel marked the increase of capabilities the air station has to offer with operations in the Indo-Asia Pacific region.
“Right now I believe that we are the only air station in the Japan area that has a C-130 hot refuel pit,” said Bulduc. “In this area of responsibility—we’re it. This is the closest Marine Corps base, so people can get gas here and head back out.”
The Fuels Division conducted many periods of training and preparation to make sure the first use of the ADFS was done safely and efficiently.
“Most of the bulk fuel specialists that we have here on base have dealt with a system like this or similar to this, so the training we gave them was not too complicated. It was easy for them to understand, and they got it really quick,” said U. S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Milton Gamez, the operations chief with bulk fuels. “We came out here once the system was completed, and we did what we call ‘dry runs’, which is where we simulate how an aircraft would tank, fuel it and go through all the procedures as if there was an aircraft here.”
In addition to the fast and efficient refueling the ADFS offers, it also takes less personnel to operate than using the trucks, which free up others to either fuel more aircraft or accomplish other mission critical tasks.
“This is huge. I keep saying this is a game changer, and we are very happy with it,” said Bulduc. “We prepared for months to get this online, and it went really well. So it’s a great feeling to start using it. It’s been a great day.”