USAF airmen use old equipment for F-35 hot-pit refuelling

3 July 2019 (Last Updated July 3rd, 2019 14:28)

The US Air Force’s 366th Logistics Readiness Squadron (LRS) has used old equipment from the 1950s to refuel the Lockheed Martin-manufactured F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft.

USAF airmen use old equipment for F-35 hot-pit refuelling
Personnel performing a hot-pit refuelling with a hose cart from the 1970s on an F-35 Lightning II from Hill Air Force Base. Credit: USAF / Airman First Class Andrew Kobialka.

The US Air Force’s 366th Logistics Readiness Squadron (LRS) has used old equipment from the 1950s to refuel the Lockheed Martin-manufactured F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft.

Airmen from 366th LRS, also known as Gunfighters, used a Type 1 hydrant system from the 1950s and hose cart from the 1970s to conduct hot-pit refuelling on F-35 aircraft.

366th LRS fuels operator senior airman Christian Cook stated that hot-pit refuelling technique enables aircraft to land, refuel and then take off without turning off the engine.

This approach significantly reduces the amount of time taken to refuel an aircraft when compared to traditional refuelling, which takes more than two hours.

The standard refuelling procedure followed in the traditional approach involves landing, turning off the engine and a to-do list.

According to 366th LRS fuels service centre non-commissioned officer in charge technical sergeant Zachary Kiniry, the Gunfighters first used eight R-11 refuelling trucks with each having a capacity to hold 6,000gal of fuel.

However, this consumed a lot of time and led to logistic issues as each R-11 can only refuel two jets at a time.

Kiniry said: “This method is not time-efficient, ties up 50% of the base’s R-11’s and associated personnel and creates traffic on an active flight line that could pose a safety hazard.”

“Our old equipment is persisting and performing up to the hot-pits gold standard of 13-minute turnarounds.”

As a result, the squadron switched to using older-generation equipment to complete the mission efficiently.

Gunfighters used a Type 1 hydrant system and hose carts directly connected to 500,000gal tanks. This creates the capability to ‘virtually endlessly’ refuel the F-35 aircraft.

Kiniry added: “Our old equipment is persisting and performing up to the hot-pits gold standard of 13-minute turnarounds.”

The new process allows Gunfighters to run hot-pits around the clock and eliminates the need to set up a new R11 between refuelling each F-35, thus saving time.

Cook said: “We have eliminated safety concerns from the heavy traffic on the flight line and reallocated eight R11’s with their associated personnel to perform the rest of the mission outside of hot-pits.”