332d AEW conducts first FARP operation at cluster base in combat AOR

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  • 332d Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

Airmen from the 332d Air Expeditionary Wing executed a first-of-its-kind Forward Arming and Refueling Point operation at a cluster base in a combat area of responsibility.

During the FARP operation, an MQ-9 Reaper from the 361st Expeditionary Attack Squadron was rapidly refueled and re-armed by members of the 26th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron. The maneuver validated the ability to generate combat power, increase intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance time, while also decreasing transit time. It further demonstrated the ability of the MQ-9 Reaper to operate in any airfield, any time, within the U.S. Central Command AOR.

“It’s satisfying to be able to highlight our capabilities,” said U.S. Air Force FARP operator, Senior Airman James Wheeler. “We can land at a smaller cluster base anywhere, anytime and provide fuel [and armament] to air assets whenever it’s needed.”

The ability to operate from cluster bases to rapidly generate combat power operationalizes the proactive concept of Agile Combat Employment, which shifts generation of airpower from large, centralized bases, to networks of dispersed cluster bases to increase survivability, complicate adversary planning and gain an advantage.

While the operation marked the first time both refueling and rearming were executed at a cluster base within a combat AOR, it was also the second time an MQ-9 Reaper was rapidly refueled at a cluster base.

“This operation was a complex endeavor that required many teams working seamlessly together,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Danielle Ozment, A5 Plans and Programs lead with the 332d A235 Directorate. “It included an HC-130J Combat King II aircraft from our 26th ERQS refueling and re-arming an MQ-9 Reaper, all while our 361st EATKS partners coordinated with teams around the globe on logistics to enable satellite-based launch and recovery operations. The outstanding performance of all teams involved demonstrates the 332d AEW’s ability to operationalize ACE and how we can contribute rapidly to any contingency, in concert with regional partners, to support regional security.”