OAK HARBOR, Wash. –
Sailors from Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Fleet Logistics Center Puget Sound (FLCPS) performed the first-ever “hot” refueling of a P-8 Poseidon Aircraft Jan. 30 at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island (NASWI).
The Sailors, part of the NAVSUP FLC Puget Sound “Team Whidbey” aviation warehousing operation at NASWI, operate the Aircraft Direct Refueling Facility (ADRF), part of the air station’s flight line and taxiway system. Hot refueling involves fueling an aircraft on the flight line while its engines continue to operate.
“This new capability is a demonstration of our team’s innovation and tenacity. Through their preparation and hard work, this proof of concept expands NAVSUP FLC Puget Sound’s mission in providing ready and reliable logistics support to the warfighter,” said Capt. Josh Elston, NAVSUP FLC Puget Sound commanding officer.
In a hot refueling evolution, planes and helicopters taxi through marked lanes to arrive at the fueling station, take on required fuel, then proceed back to the runway to take off and continue the mission. With in-ground fuel infrastructure set up next to the flight line, the hot refueling process is faster than using fuel trucks on the flight line apron.
“Hot-pit refueling reduces an aircraft’s downtime allowing it to return to mission at a faster rate, keeping aircraft where our nation needs them,” Elston said.
The P-8 Poseidon is a two-engine maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft derived from the Boeing 737. The P-8 aircraft refueled in the evolution are assigned to Patrol Squadron (VP) 47, “The Golden Swordsmen,” and used to conduct anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and humanitarian response.
The hot refueling event was a culmination of several months of planning, preparation and rehearsal between the ADRF team and VP-47. Three Aviation Boatswain’s Mate-Fuel (ABF) Sailors from NAVSUP and five squadron Sailors from VP-47 teamed up to plan and coordinate delivery of 646 gallons of fuel as a proof of concept.
“There are challenges with any hot refueling operation,” said Chief Aviation Boatswain’s Mate-Fuel Christopher Wooten, NAVSUP FLC Puget Sound, “but our preparation and strong emphasis on flight line safety allowed for this unique evolution to happen smoothly. The lessons we learned provide the team with the confidence and familiarization to replicate that success going forward.”
In the past, the hot refueling process at NASWI was generally reserved for smaller aircraft such as strike fighters and helicopters.
“This evolution has given ‘Team Whidbey’ an opportunity to prove ADRF versatility by servicing a larger maritime patrol aircraft and can open the door for expanded mission sets in the future,” Wooten said.
The refueling operation went as planned and successfully demonstrated that a P-8 could be hot refueled in times of contingency or crisis, lending greater flexibility to aviation support operations.
“I am proud of my team and that NAVSUP FLC Puget Sound was part this ground-breaking evolution,” Elston said.
Written by Cmdr. Curt Butler, Naval Supply Systems Command Public Affairs.