News Search

Ellsworth integrates F-18 Growlers into hot-pit re-fueling training

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Dylan Maher
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

Sixteen Airmen from the 28th Logistics Readiness Squadron’s fuels flight became certified in hot-pit refueling during a joint refueling training exercise with U.S. Navy F-18 Growlers at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, April 19-26, 2024.

Hot-pit refueling is a concept where military aircraft can land to refill their engines without turning them off, effectively reducing time for redeployment. With Ellsworth being dedicated to supporting bombers, the fuels flight used the unique opportunity to train alongside fighter jets and learn the differences between the aircraft types.

“We see a lot of fighters and other aircraft downrange during deployments,” said Senior Airman Tyler Dicus, 28th LRS fuels equipment maintenance supervisor. “It’s excellent for our Airmen to get this kind of experience and be versatile with our refueling capabilities.”

According to Staff Sgt. Aaron Debolt, 28th LRS Non-Commissioned Officer In-Charge of fuels distribution, hot-pit refueling training is divided into three phases: creating a knowledge base to identify hazards, coordinating a site survey with maintenance crew chiefs, and performing the on-site refueling operations.

When compared to the B-1B Lancer, the size of the F-18s plays a significant role in how the fuels flight approaches hot-pit refueling.

“For the B-1, we arrive to the parked aircraft to conduct hot-pit refueling,” said Debolt. “Whereas the fighter jets pull right up to us, with our team ready to perform.”

The time required from identifying hazards to performing the hot-pit refueling depends on several factors that the fuels flight must consider.

“We coordinate with crew chiefs, pilots, and maintenance crews in order for our teams to arrive on site and perform safely,” said Dicus. “Depending on how fast the fuel leaves the pump, we can expect refueling times to range from 20 to 30 minutes.”

With hot-fuel training having been conducted with fellow armed services, and a different airframe, the fuels flight gained insight on what it means to exercise interoperability.

“Training with our sister services allows us to be mission capable with different aircraft and teach our Airmen a process they don’t always get to see here,” said Debolt. “When jets accompany the B-1 during Bomber Task Force missions we need to be ready to deploy different hot-pit refueling techniques.”