35th LRS Fuels Airmen upgrade F-16 quick launch, recovery capability

Hit em with a left

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Cody Duplaga, a 35th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, marshals an F-16 Fighting Falcon at Misawa Air Base, Japan, March 20, 2018. The duty of a marshaller is to guide a pilot to a parking position in a safe manner using visual communication via body signals. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Xiomara M. Martinez)

Dirty gaze fuels jet

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Bryan Depuno, a 35th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, connects the pantograph for hot refueling operations at Misawa Air Base, Japan, March 19, 2018. Hot refueling is when the F-16 Fighting Falcons taxi in with the engine still running and receive fuel. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Xiomara M. Martinez)

In it goes

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Christopher Martin, a 35th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels distribution driver, connects a pantograph for hot refueling operations at Misawa Air Base, Japan, March 19, 2018. Pantographs eliminate the safety and environmental liabilities associated with rubber hoses for higher fueling flowrates and maintenance-free operations, allowing an F-16 Fighting Falcon to conduct a hot pit refuel with its engine still running. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Xiomara M. Martinez)

Puzzling together fuel parts

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Trevor Vandeman, a 35th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, ensures a pantograph is attached for hot refuel operations at Misawa Air Base, Japan, March 20, 2018. Pantographs are a key element in hot pits, which allow aircraft to refuel and take off at a rapid rate. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Xiomara M. Martinez)

One task at a time

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Christopher Martin, a 35th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels distribution driver, fills out a daily refuel summary at Misawa Air Base, Japan, March 20, 2018. With the renewed hot pits, F-16 Fighting Falcons can get into the air quicker by not having to shut down the aircraft, saving time and money. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Xiomara M. Martinez)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Airmen with the 35th Fighter Wing and local Japanese contractors worked together to upgrade Misawa’s hot pit refuel capabilities March 20, enhancing the wing’s quick launch and recovery mission.

“The new system is quicker and takes fewer personnel,” said U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Wesley Henderson, a 35th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels distribution driver. “It is important for us to have the ability to hot refuel because it is a quick turnaround for the fighter jets. Pilots can get to the ground, check out, get fuel and then head right back up as fast as possible.”

The collective bilateral efforts of both U.S. and Japan personnel improved the infrastructure used to get Misawa’s F-16s in the air faster without having to shut down the aircraft’s engines, preventing the waste of precious fuel and time. The process saves the Air Force $60,000 and 152 man-hours annually.

“Hot refueling allows our F-16 Fighting Falcons to taxi in while still running and get more fuel before their next sortie,” explained U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Zechariah Coe, the 35th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels facilities NCO in charge.

With the refreshed hot pits, pilots can accumulate more sorties with fewer resources required. U.S. Air Force Maj. Josh Plocinski, the 35th Fighter Wing director of staff, said that instead of having to take off, land, then shut down the jet and wait for maintenance to run through their processes to get the jet ready to fly again, he can just refuel and go.

“I can land, stay running, get gas, then take off again and fly the same mission without having to go through all the processes on the maintenance side of it,” Plocinski explained.

The upgrade took the coordination of multiple agencies to complete the approval, funding and planning of the entire project. Those agencies included the logistics readiness squadron’s fuels management flight, the civil engineer squadron’s water and fuel systems maintenance flight, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Defense Logistics Agency.

“It was great bringing all these agencies together to upgrade a system that really innovates flight line operations and improves our efficiency out here,” said Coe. “We couldn’t have done it alone.”