PRINCE SULTAN AIR BASE, KINGDOM OF SAUDI ARABIA --
The 378th Expeditionary Operations Group hosted F-16CJ Fighting Falcon “hot pit” refueling training at Prince Sultan Air Base, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, for aircraft maintainers from Al Udeid AB, Qatar, April 29 to May 4, 2021.
Hot pit refueling occurs when an aircraft has just landed and gets refueled on the ground while the engine is still running. It enables personnel to avoid other maintenance actions that would be needed if the plane was to turn off, serving as a way to get the plane back in the air fast and as safely as possible.
While this method of rapid refueling is used in deployed locations across the region, the process is different for each aircraft and requires hands-on experience most maintainers will only receive for the aircraft they are assigned. As a result, at times it cannot be accomplished for aircraft arriving from a different location.
This training event sought to resolve that issue for the fighter aircraft stationed at PSAB.
“The purpose of training the folks stationed at Al Udeid is that in case our jets have to divert from PSAB, due to bad weather or a sandstorm, then Al Udeid will have the capabilities and training to spin the jets back up and get them in the air and keep up with the mission,” said Tech. Sgt. Richard Vice, 378th EOG quality assurance inspector.
Most of the trainees have never worked on a fighter aircraft before and saw a difference working on them here.
“It’s important for us to train the 379th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron because they are all heavy maintainers; your C130s, B-1 bombers or B-52 bombers guys -- they have no fighter aircraft experience,” said Vice. “Learning how to work with fighters from heavies is night and day, so they need to have the proper walk-through experience and training just in case our fighters have to divert. We need to get them up close and personal with the aircraft instead of just seeing it on a PowerPoint slide.”
In regards to turning a wrench, there are many differences between the two categories of aircraft. However, one particular difference really stands out.
“The difference between the heavies and fighters is that fighters are a lot smaller,” said Staff Sgt. Devon Chandler, 379th EMXS B-52 crew chief. “It’s really cool because there are less people involved. It’s only you, the pilot and one other person besides the weapons team. Working with heavies, there are a lot of people with a lot more going on.”
The event highlighted the opportunities that come organically to deployed locations, where experience and training can be leveraged to meet the mission requirements.
The trainees have appreciated the chance to broaden their capabilities.
“The training has been great,” said Chandler. “Being with the B-52 up in Minot, I’ve never even seen fighters up close, or anything like that, so getting to actually work with the F-16s has been awesome. We’ve been able to meet a lot of people while we’ve been here and our trainers are great and really good guys to meet.”