FARP Rodeo trains for austere refueling

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Spencer Slocum,
  • 1st Combat Camera Squadron

Joint Base Charleston and North Auxiliary Field in South Carolina became the arena for the third annual Forward Area Refueling Point (FARP) Rodeo April 2-5. This event is a pivotal training ground where Air Force professionals from across the United States converge to sharpen their skills in FARP operations, utilizing C-17 Globemaster III aircraft.

Throughout the week, loadmasters, pilots, and fuels personnel from installations around the United States came together to train in FARP operations on the C-17. The essence of FARP operations is to execute 'hot refueling' procedures, where a tanker aircraft, such as a C-17, refuels another while both maintain their engines running. This capability is critical for the teams, allowing them to refuel any aircraft required by their mission.

The rodeo included academics and hands-on training in both day and night-time operations, focusing on building upon the training each day. The climax of the event was a final exercise at North Auxiliary Field. Here, participants were challenged to apply their FARP operations training under the veil of night, using only night vision goggles and minimal red light for visibility.

Their task was to successfully refuel a UH-60 Black Hawk, simulating conditions that could be encountered in real-world austere environments.

“Participating in the FARP Rodeo is a great training experience, not only for us as individuals, but to allow us to share our skills and function as a force multiplier throughout the Air Force,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jordan Soltis, 167th Airlift Wing noncommissioned officer in-charge of aircrew training.

The team’s capability to refuel aircraft in remote locations helps support global access worldwide. The C-17 not only has the capability to fly long distances and land in remote airfields in rough, land-locked regions, but it can also carry large equipment, supplies and troops directly to small airfields in harsh terrain anywhere in the world, day or night.

Participating units included the 167th Operations Group from West Virginia, 164th OG from Tennessee, 305th OG from New Jersey, and the 15th Airlift Squadron here at Charleston.

After completing the training, the participants became certified in FARP operations, allowing them to take the skills they learned and train others at their home units.

“By training in this exercise now, we posture ourselves to support a future fight,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Katherine Stanton, 437th Operations Support Squadron wing training superintendent. “No matter where or when we are needed to support the mission, we will be ready.”