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Joint force hot pitting saves time, money

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho (AFNS) -- Airmen from the 366th Logistics Readiness Squadron petroleum, oil and lubricant flight here, recently work alongside the U.S. Navy Electronic Attack Squadron 129 (VAQ-129) to help develop and implement a "hot pit" refueling process for Navy EA-18G Growlers, which frequent the base.

Even though hot pit refueling is used by both services and is a common practice of refueling a jet while the engines are still running, qualifying Airmen from the 366th LRS to do so on a Navy aircraft presented a challenge.

"It's always a learning experience when working with other agencies, or sister services, like the VAQ-129," said Tech. Sgt. Richard Schaefer, the 366th LRS fuel distribution supervisor. "Not only does each branch have a unique way of performing their operations, but they also have different requirements."

Due to the fact that there was already an existing training partnership between Mountain Home Air Force Base and VAQ-129, a request was made to have the ability to hot pit refuel here.

The request was granted by the major command and both branches later met to outline and resolve any differences in refueling procedures.

Although the hot pit qualification process was extensive, it presented many advantages.


Before the implementation of the hot pit process, the VAQ-129 would either have to fly back to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington, to refuel, or go through the regular refueling process at Mountain Home AFB.

The regular process consisted of turning the aircraft off and conducting a routine maintenance checks. This process also caused VAQ-129 to send additional Sailors on TDY in support of the aircraft.

According to Petty Officer 3rd Class Loza Sanchez, a VAQ-129 aviation structural mechanic, conducting a full-length refuel here wasted valuable time and resources.

"It saves on man power ... and it also cuts the refueling process from 45 minutes to roughly 15 minutes," Schaefer said. "Everyone gets it done as quickly as possible so we can get the bird back in the air to perform its mission."

The new joint hot pit refueling is a testament to the close working relationship between the airmen at Mountain Home AFB and the Sailors of Whidbey Island.

"It was great working with the VAQ-129," Schaefer said. "Let's face it ... everybody enjoys saving money."

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