U.S. Marines and Coast Guardsmen conducted the first forward air-refueling point between two helicopters during the 2018 Marine Aircraft Group 49 Combined Arms Exercise, June 14.
The Norfolk, Virginia Marine Medium Tilt Roader Squadron (VMM) 774 refueled a Coast Guard HH-65 Dolphin from the Coast Guard Air Station Atlantic City, New Jersey with a Marine Corps V-22 Osprey for the first time ever, showcasing the range and capabilities of both services.
A forward air-refueling point is a refueling operation performed by two aircraft on the ground when air-to-air refueling is not possible.
Marine Corps Sgt. Christopher Stewart, VMM-774 V-22 crew chief said the importance of setting up this new forward air-refueling point is to be able to work jointly with sister services to keep the mission flowing, blurring the differences between each by intertwining their standard operating procedures.
"There's a lot of planning that goes into fueling a new aircraft for the first time," said Marine Corps Sgt. Robert Parkes, VMM-774 V-22 crew chief. "We are having to talk to the Coast Guard to figure out how they want to do things while working around our standard operating procedures and basically trying to figure out the best way to work together to achieve the results that we need."
This type of refueling could increase the range of aircraft - increasing warfighting capabilities, said Parkes.
Training in a joint exercise gives each branch opportunities to understand how to work together for future endeavors, an opportunity the MCAX gives to service members.
"We have to make sure our fuel points match their fuel points and make sure they understand the way we safely operate and understand, ourselves, how they operate," said Stewart. "There may be some different ways they do things that we need to know and vice versa."
The refueling was safely and successfully completed in less than an hour with the Marines and Coast Guard working together as a team to accomplish the mission at hand.
"We will be working together a lot more in the future so it's important for all the services to get training together," said Parkes. "The refueling was a great opportunity for training to see how each other operates and be cordially familiar with each other when we work together next time."