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FARP provides ‘hot’ refueling capability in Central America

  • Published
  • By U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Chyenne Griffin
  • Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs
The 1-228 Aviation Regiment and Petroleum, Oil and Lubricants (POL) section here set up a Forward Aerial Refueling Point (FARP) on the edge of the installation, training and testing its rapid response capabilities. 

The 1-228th frequently conducts FARP operations when its helicopters are required to operate at distances farther from established airports than the range of helicopter permits. Sustained operations in the North Western region of Honduras, for example, would require the use of a FARP to keep a helicopter fueled, according to leadership. 

"During disaster relief operations in some of the more remote areas of Central America, 1-228th would establish a FARP somewhere between the grief-stricken area and the nearest airport," said Army Maj. Frank Intini, 1-228th S3 officer-in-charge. "This would allow 1-228th to bring critical supplies to more people over a greater area. The FARP would also allow 1-228th to operate in areas where the infrastructure was damaged too badly to provide fuel to support rescue operations." 

This FARP had a maximum capacity of about 10,000 gallons, and refueled the entire 1-228th fleet throughout the week. The 24 hour-a-day operation issued a total of approximately 9,500 gallons of fuel during their week-long training event, according to Army Sgt. Victor Flores, POL operations sergeant. 

"Once the FARP is set up, our team is constantly conducting quality surveillance," said Sergeant Flores. "Once a helicopter is heading in for refuel we have a team that ensures traffic control - directing the helicopter to the correct point, monitors the fuel gage meter, monitors the fuel pump, monitors the radio and mans the actual refueling line." 

Due to the size and complexity of this FARP, and because the POL Section was training Soldiers on new and unfamiliar equipment, it took two days to prepare the refueling point. The 1-228th POL Section can typically establish less complicated refueling points in 10-15 minutes. 

"The point of operating and training with the FARP was twofold: it provided the POL Soldiers with training on the latest refueling equipment in 1-228th's inventory since this was the first time many of our POL Soldiers had ever set up and operated this equipment," said Major Intini. "This training event also provided the battalion with the opportunity to test the equipment for serviceability." 

Major Intini went on to say that the training provides aircrews with procedures specific to 'hot refueling' operations, with the helicopter running while refueling, versus 'cold refueling' where the helicopter is completely shut down prior to receiving fuel. 

"This event required POL Soldiers to design the layout and assemble the components of the FARP, develop procedures for aircraft to enter and exit the refueling points, communicate with and guide the aircraft over FM radio, and exercise the procedures associated with 'hot refueling' UH-60 and CH-47 helicopters," he said. 

"I believe it was a very successful training event," said Major Intini. "The 1-228th POL section is the best I have ever seen, and they have been recognized by the battalion on several occasions for their professionalism, motivation, flexibility and skill. They always provide the best support anyone can ask for."