MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, California -- Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 363 conducted aerial refueling exercises near Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, Dec. 16.
Aerial refueling is an annual training requirement, but VMM-363 practices the techniques once every two months.
“We’re keeping all the pilots proficient in their abilities to refuel from a C-130,” said Sgt. James Fredrickson, a crew chief with VMM-363 and a native of Jacksonville, North Carolina.
Aerial refueling is an important capability of aviation units and increases flight times for certain missions.
“One of the things the Osprey can do is refuel in air,” said Capt. Jacob Scott Dunn, a pilot training officer with VMM-363 and a native of Ridgecrest, California. “The training greatly extends our range and ability to reach a downed pilot or react to any kind of crisis response.”
VMM-363 rendezvoused mid-flight with a KC-130J Super Hercules from Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron (VMGR) 352 to conduct the training.
“It’s called a plug,” said Dunn. “They roll the hoses out and we have to manipulate the aircraft a little bit, then they put the probe in the basket and actually give fuel to us. That allows us to extend our range almost indefinitely.”
During the training, the crew chief assisted the pilots while keeping everything in check.
“The crew chief’s job is primarily monitoring all the fuel pages to make sure [the fuel tanks are] filling up evenly while keeping an eye out for other planes that are in flight,” said Fredrickson.
The required annual training is practiced every two months because it grows to be more and more important, said Dunn.
“We don’t have the fuel to be able to reach some of the places [we deploy to],” says Dunn. “If a jet gets shot down, the reason we’re out there is to pick the guys up before the bad guys get them. We need to have that ability in both the crew and the aircraft, to fuel up en route and bring them back behind friendly lines.”