Airmen from the 35th Fighter Wing integrated with units from Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, and Yokota Air Base, Japan, for a Total Force cooperation event aimed at Agile Combat Employment development at Yokota Air Base, Feb. 13.
The Agile Combat Employment, or ACE, mission had a variety of desired learning objectives for 16 Misawa Airmen to accomplish in a 35-hour timeframe. During the 35 hours, Airmen from three bases tested rapid aircrew swap-out and wet-wing defuel procedures. For Little Rock AFB Airmen, this event also concluded a larger exercise, which was part of a 12-month process focused on sharpening readiness, and familiarized the unit with the Indo-Pacific region.
The training objectives for this event combined the rehearsal of emerging United States Indo-Pacific Command theater mobility operations with a study of specialized fueling operations uncommon to the fourth generation fighter enterprise.
“Misawa’s portion of the ACE concept is basically having a jet land at a remote location. Then, a team of multi-capable Airmen re-arm and refuel the jet and send it back into the fight as quickly as possible,” said Maj. Daniel Schreiber, the 35th Fighter Wing Inspector General.
With training designed to integrate critical expeditionary skills from several functional areas, Airmen are able to support power projection in remote environments with minimal resources, enabling them to better support continuous combat operations from anywhere in the Indo-Pacific region.
Airmen from the 35th Logistics Readiness Squadron Fuels Management Flight observed wet-wing defueling procedures at Yokota, consisting of off-loading fuel from C-130Js into a fuel truck, which could then refuel fighter aircraft during rapid crew swap-out procedures.
“A wet-wing defuel is considered a special fuels operation,” said Master Sgt. Jason Dudley, the 35th LRS Fuels Management Flight superintendent. “Currently, the only shop authorized to perform this operation is Yokota’s fuels shop. This gives us an opportunity to mirror their preparation and training in order to execute on our end. This also gives us a chance to experience it outside of a contingency environment and in a controlled setting.”
During a wet-wing defuel, a C-130J lands and keeps all four engines running. On-site ground crews then transfer fuel from the wings of the C-130J either to an expeditionary fuel bladder or a fuel truck.
The purpose of a wet-wing mission is to deliver fuel for air operations at a forward operating base without an established fuel storage facility, allowing the Airmen to have access to critical resources.
“The biggest takeaway from observing a wet-wing defuel was seeing the risks identified and the precautionary measures in place to mitigate them, said Dudley. “All key players in the operation must be aware of the increased danger due to the aircraft engines running while taxiing in to place. Therefore, safety musty be a top priority as we execute the ACE mission.”
These capabilities, demonstrated through ACE, provide Pacific Air Forces’ bases global reach and agility in the Indo-Pacific region by ensuring forces are able to rapidly maneuver throughout the theater to respond to any contingency or crisis.
“These were just a few of the events our team was able to orchestrate in order to provide innovative opportunities for Misawa Airmen to expand their skillsets and capabilities,” explained Schreiber. “Our goal is to expand training events in order to enable our warfighters to operate in a challenging environment with limited support and sustainment capabilities.”