C-130 Crews Exercising Emerging Capability at Exercise

SSgt. George Childres, 41st Airlift Squadron, loadmaster, center, goes over the loadmaster's checklist for hot defuleing a C-130J Super Hercules during Exercise Mobility Guardian at Fairchild AFB, Wash., Aug. 3, 2017. Air Force photo by TSgt. Nathan Lipscomb.

FAIRCHILD AFB, Wash.—Air Mobility Command’s largest exercise is giving its crews the chance to practice their tactics, and on the flight line here, actually build the procedures for an emerging mission set.

C-130 crews stopping at Fairchild AFB, Wash., are practicing the process of “hot defueling,” where the crews offload the fuel from the aircraft onto a truck for use at an austere location. For example, a C-130 can receive fuel from a tanker, land at a forward operating base, and provide fuel via a truck for deployed aircraft such as attack helicopters, all without shutting off its engines.

The process isn’t necessarily new—it was done during Operation Iraqi Freedom—but it has become more popular with Operation Inherent Resolve, and AMC is using the exercise to form its procedures and write its checklists for the system, said SMSgt. Chris Dobbertin, the 92nd Logistics Readiness Squadron superintendent at Fairchild.

The capability is needed in “austere locations” where there is not an infrastructure set up to support a fuel system. It ensures C-130s and crews are ready so “we still have that option” to refuel on the ground, Dobbertin said.

At Fairchild alone, crews are looking to go through the process 10-12 times, both during the day and at night. A team of airmen connect an R-11 refueling truck to a C-130 while the two engines on the other side of the aircraft run.

C-130s from Little Rock AFB, Ark., practiced the mission on a recent afternoon as Air Force Magazine visited. The base’s C-130s are preparing for a deployment and had been coordinating with Fairchild for months in advance of the exercise to be ready to practice, Dobbertin said.