OFF THE NORTH CAROLINA COAST (Jan. 19) --
The KC-130J Hercules used by Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252 are tasked with multiple missions ranging from transportation to tactical air support. But the most common missions these giants are tasked with is the aerial refueling of friendly aircraft.
A VMGR-252 Hercules teamed up with two Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 264 MV-22 Ospreys to conduct aerial refueling training over the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of North Carolina Jan. 5.
Aerial refueling training is a repetitive process. A KC-130J crew lets out a hose and flies in a pattern while the other aircraft conduct multiple runs called “dry plugs.” A dry plug is the connection between the KC-130J’s hose and a friendly aircraft and no fuel is being pumped. When an aircraft is refueling with a KC-130J it is called a wet plug.
“Aerial refueling allows the receivers to extend their time on station,” said Cpl. Seth B. Van Gorder, a KC-130J Hercules crewmaster with VMGR-252. “This enables these aircraft to provide close-air support, search and rescue medical evacuations and transcontinental movement of aircraft that could not normally conduct such a feat without multiple stops or landing.”
Van Gorder added this training benefits all ground troops in theater by being able to refuel aircraft to extend the range of aerial surveillance and coverage.
“This training helps build coordination between adjacent units,” said Capt. Michael S. Hritz, a KC-130J Hercules pilot with VMGR-252. “The main purpose of this training is to help the crew of both aircraft keep up their qualifications.”
This training is imperative to the missions VMGR-252 conducts both deployed and stateside, added Hritz.
“Whether we are conducting aerial refueling missions or troop movements for the Marines of 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), we are working hard to make sure our pilots and crew are ready,” said Hritz. “This training helps the other units and ours by effectively working both physical and mental aspects of the training.”
This training allows participating pilots to keep up their qualifications and ability to send or receive fuel said Van Gorder.
“This training is crucial for all aircraft involved,” stated Van Gorder. “In a combat situation it is imperative that the aerial refueling evolution is conducted in an efficient, expedient and safe manner. This is critical to the aviation component of a Marine Air-Ground Task Force in achieving mission accomplishment and ensuring the safety of our aircrews and Marines on the ground.”