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39th Rescue Squadron conducts forward area refueling point with MQ-9 Reaper

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Darius Sostre-Miroir 920th Rescue Wing Public Affairs

A 39th Rescue Squadron HC-130 Combat King II aircraft refueled an MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicle during a Forward Area Refueling Point training exercise in a simulated austere environment with the 65th Special Operations Squadron Aug. 8.

The MQ-9 is an armed, multi-mission, remotely piloted aircraft that is employed primarily as an intelligence-collection asset and, secondarily, against dynamic execution targets. The HC-130J’s mission as the only dedicated fixed-wing personnel recovery platform in the Air Force inventory is to rapidly deploy to execute recovery operations to austere airfields and denied territory for expeditionary, all-weather personnel-recovery operations to include airdrop, air land, helicopter air-to-air refueling and FARP missions.

“Personnel recovery and CSAR are important services that we provide to the joint force. In order to expand our rescue capabilities, the use of FARP is critical in our global range, increased medical coverage, and the ability to reintegrate joint and coalition personnel quickly and get them back in the fight,” said Lt. Col. Paul Golando, 39th RQS commander. 

Aircraft often need to cover large distances during missions, which often includes hostile and remote areas. FARP provides the fuel necessary for helicopter and fixed-wing operations to continue their mission while reducing the vulnerability of forward deployed forces by taking gas from the HC-130J and passing it into another airframe on the ground using a system of hoses. By establishing a FARP in or near the area of operations, forces can rapidly refuel, minimize downtime and ensure they’re quickly able to respond to extract isolated personnel.

The capability to refuel aircraft in this manner at forward airfields and in austere environments by conducting FARP is a specialty that furthers the 920th RQW’s worldwide agile combat abilities.

“We are effectively able to become a mobile gas station that allows aircraft to go farther and expand the range of our recovery vehicles who are not capable to refuel in flight. Another capability of FARP is to re-arm, so aircraft like the MQ-9 and other munition-carrying aircraft can shorten duration and distance between missions,”

The 39th RQS operates HC-130J aircraft that carry out the 920th RQW’s mission to plan, lead, and conduct military rescue operations and missions to deny competitors and adversaries exploitation of isolated personnel.