Airmen pump up C-130 capabilities

by Airman Larissa Greatwood
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

On Aug. 12, the 37th Airlift Squadron conducted “Wet Wing” training, which enables C-130 airframes to have the capability to defuel with four engines running as opposed to two. Defueling is when an aircraft is sent to a location to refuel other aircraft.

Being in a central European country, Ramstein’s ability to have this qualification will greaten the mission’s impact as it is in closer vicinity to crucial areas. On a larger scale, the military will save money by using C-130 aircraft to transport fuel as opposed to larger aircraft used in the past.

“By using a single C-130J (Super Hercules) to take fuel to austere locations, the military is saving millions in the long run by reducing the need of two traditional C-130 (short) aircraft,” said Master Sgt. Boris Brink, 37th Airlift Squadron aircraft loadmaster. “Not only are we saving money by using a C-130 aircraft to refuel, (but) being at Ramstein saves us money because we’re closer to most deployed locations than aircraft based in the United States. With this process, we are able to transport fuel to fuel bladders in other locations where they can disperse the fuel to motor vehicles, helicopters and smaller aircraft.”

Brink said the training to test this process at Ramstein proved a success and was used during a recent real-world mission.

“It’s a new way for us to do business,” said Maj. Dennis Hamilton, 37th Airlift squadron pilot. “The idea is that when we go to a (remote location), we really don’t want to shut down two engines and get stuck out there. The training had all four engines running so we’re able to get the fuel to the user and extend their reach and the military’s reach.”

The defueling concept is directed toward users in deployed locations as well as impromptu missions.

“We’re getting fuel out to locations where they’re taking small rotary wing aircraft deeper in the world without runways, and our Airmen need to be able to do their jobs,” Hamilton said. “When we fly into places that are less developed, this capability makes (the mission) that much easier.”

Using a four-engine defueling mechanism makes getting fuel to such places simpler and allows more room in the C-130.

“What we’ve done in the past is we’ve had full fuel bladders in the back of the aircraft which take up two pallet positions,” Brink said. “With this new technique, we’re able to carry about 33 percent more cargo and offload fuel at the same time.”

The ability to be able to convert the number of engines has been done in other locations, but is now allowed at Ramstein. The approval process may have been difficult, but it was worth it.

“We were able to get a technical order changed to enable this to happen, which would be the equivalent to changing an (Air Force Instruction) for other jobs, so getting that changed was a big deal,” Brink said.

With this new ability at Ramstein, military members can now complete the mission more efficiently.