RAF MILDENHALL --- Two MC-130Js from the 67th Special Operations Squadron conducted a Forward Arming and Refueling Point exercise July 26, 2017, on RAF Mildenhall, England.
A Forward Arming and Refueling Point, or FARP, is an austere location near a combat zone where fuel and supplies can be transferred from one aircraft to another.
“The FARP gives us the ability to ground refuel fixed wing, tilt-rotor and rotor assets,” said Master Sgt. Jeffrey Nighbert, 67th SOS operations superintendent.
Having a FARP capability plays an important role for deployed aircraft in austere locations by allowing our forces to shorten the amount of time needed to return to the mission.
“This allows our air assets to engage the enemy, get refueled, rearmed and get back to the fight quickly,” said Maj. John Kauzlaric, 67th SOS combat systems officer. “It doesn’t require us to have a fully manned base, which allows for more flexibility.”
Although FARP exercises are common within the special operations community, exercise Rapid Eagle was unique because it included the MC-130J and the F-15C.
"This was the first ever FARP between any MC-130 variant and an F-15C,” said Lt. Col. Jason Zumwalt, 493rd Fighter Squadron commander. “It was important because it helped to prove the concept of integrating the FARP capabilities of the MC-130 with the F-15C. This capability could provide improved flexibility for future operations."
Because of the nature of the exercise, it included the involvement of three separate wings: the 48th Fighter Wing, 352d Special Operations Wing and 100th Air Refueling Wing, each having their own part to play in the overall success of the exercise.
During the exercise, MC-130Js flew to RAF Lakenheath, picked up F-15C Eagle maintenance crews and armament supplies, returned to RAF Mildenhall to drop them off, then continued on to a FARP location to refuel four F-15Cs from the 493rd Fighter Squadron assigned to RAF Lakenheath, England.
The 100th ARW supplied the FARP hose deployment personnel from the 100th Logistics Readiness Squadron.
This was also the first time the 67th SOS performed FARP with a fixed-wing fighter aircraft, added Kauzlaric.
"The exercise was a great success and allowed Airmen from the three wings to work together in a new and exciting way,” said Zumwalt. “Exercises like this help increase our ability to integrate our capabilities and train our Airmen in unfamiliar tasks."
The success of Rapid Eagle holds promise for forthcoming exercises and missions using the MC-130J and F-15C.
“In the future, we look at expanding to a bigger scale exercise that is more complex, and eventually use in combat operations,” said Kauzlaric.