Marines forward-arm, refuel helicopter during FARP exercise

Marines forward-arm, refuel helicopter during FARP exercise

Marines prepare to refuel an AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter during a forward-arming and refueling point training exercise April 3 at the Central Training Area. Upon landing, the Cobra was refueled as part of an exercise to familiarize Marines with the procedures for refueling a helicopter while the engine is still running in order to expedite the aircraft's return to the air. The helicopter is a part of HMM-262. Photo by LCpl Nicholas S. Ranum.

CENTRAL TRAINING AREA, CAMP HANSEN, JAPAN (April 11, 2013) - "Five minutes out!"

With that warning, Marines rush to refueling points and wait for the signature sound of rotors slicing through the air as aircraft near their position for an expedient pit stop.

Aviation Operations Company Marines set up a forward-arming and refueling point April 3 at the Central Training Area near Camp Hansen to support flight operations conducted by three CH-46E Sea Knight helicopters and one AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 262, Marine Aircraft Group 36.

"The commanding officer wanted to make this as large of an exercise as it could be," said MSgt John C. Green, the operations chief for Marine Wing Support Squadron 172, MAG-36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force. "This exercise involved motor transport, communications, aircraft rescue and firefighting, an expeditionary airfield, fuels and a provisional security platoon. We brought out many different sections, so they could train and better learn how to operate at a FARP."

During the exercise, each section contributed to the building and staffing of the FARP. The Marines are capable of setting up different types of FARPs, and for this exercise, set up an assault FARP, according to Sgt William Leidig, a fuels team leader with MWSS-172. Different types of FARPs allow Marines to perform a variety of missions, including providing support to several types of rotary-wing aircraft with multiple refueling hoses at the same point.

The squadron chose the assault FARP to allow the Marines to experience refueling an aircraft in a simulated combat environment, according to Leidig.

"Our goal is to (service) the helicopter as quickly as possible, so it can get back to the fight and support the Marines on the ground," said Leidig.

The main focus of the exercise was getting the squadron's newer Marines up to speed on the refueling portion of the FARP, Leidig explained.

"Most of the Marines on the refueling points were completely new to this," said Leidig. "There were a few rough spots during the refueling, but they did not panic and did as they were trained to do. Hands-on is the best way to learn and get experience."

Marines attain familiarity and efficiency with equipment and procedures through training and repetition, according to Green.

"Exercises like these are good to do, especially to help the new Marines get to know the equipment and how it works," said LCpl Sage R. Lancia, a bulk fuel specialist with MWSS-172. "The more helicopters and landings there are, the more practice we get. The Marines did a good job today, learned a lot, and everything went well."

The training prepares Marines in the air and on the ground to support anything from humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to combat operations.

"This training event and events like it provide an opportunity to hone skills for future operations, exercises and deployments," said Green. "Our focus is to help the wing do what it needs to do. That in turn helps the Marines on the ground do what they need to do and get the support that they need from the air."

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