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PSAB’s 378th EMXS hosts integrated hot pit training

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jacob B. Wrightsman
  • 378th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

Airmen from the 379th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron, Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, recently traveled to Prince Sultan Air Base to take part in an integrated hot-pit training with Airmen from the 378th EMXS.

Designed to expand the scope and lethality of the Air Force’s wartime capabilities, 379th EMXS Airmen who are primarily trained on heavy and cargo aircraft learned the ins and outs of what it takes to safely refuel an F-16 Fighting Falcon while its engines are still running.

“This training is a part of the area of responsibility’s multi-capable Airman concept that we’re ramping up here,” said Master Sgt. Arik Armstrong, 378th EMXS quality assurance inspector. “Hot-pits aren't anything new, but it’s becoming more important to be able to spread out and utilize our allied bases throughout the AOR.”

Hot-pits consist of the rapid refueling of an aircraft while its still running. This allows aircrew to spend less time on the ground and more time delivering dominant coalition air power.

“Hot-pits condense the process of shutting down and receiving an inspection,” Armstrong said. “This way our maintainers can simply catch the aircraft, refuel it and get it back up in the air.”

Having knowledgeable and capable Airmen to perform this task on any aircraft, at any base, is a critical cornerstone of the region's interoperable capability.

Over a four-day span the Airmen received a crash course on how to perform hot-pit procedures on a fighter aircraft, from marshalling the aircraft in to the refueling process.

“We broke the class into three phases,” Armstrong said. “We start with an academics portion where we go over safer maintenance, weapons academics and finally the academics of hot pits. Phase two is our cold training where we go to an aircraft that’s not running and we walk through the motions of marshalling the aircraft in, safing it, disarming and rearm the munitions and then the steps of the actual hot pit itself. Finally, phase three is actually touching the aircraft while it’s running, the actual refuel and our certification.”

Upon completing a successful hot-pit refuel, Airmen receive certification to take their new skill-set back to their base, giving fighters in the region another location for refueling.

While performing maintenance on any form of aircraft can rest heavily on the shoulders of maintenance professionals, the pressure can be substantial when operating an unfamiliar air frame.

“Everything’s different with the smaller jet compared to our much larger cargo planes,” said Tech. Sgt. Shawn Tucker, 379th EMXS transient alert craftsman. “Our engines are a lot higher up, and it's easier to move around. With the F-16, every time you go around the jet you have to duck under the exhaust and look out for danger zones.”

This newly learned capability allows the Airmen to expand the range of military aircraft in the region.

“It greatly expands our warfighter capabilities,” Tucker said. “At Al Udeid we didn’t have hot-pit capabilities for fighters, but now they can stop at our base and we’ll be able to take care of them.”

As the dynamic environment of war fighting continues to evolve, Airmen from the 379th EMXS and the 378th EMXS continue to accelerate the necessary change to win.

“It’s the ability to be mobile and get from place to place,” Armstrong said. “With the evolving world, hot pits are becoming more important in how we operate in the region. We can be more mobile with less aircraft and less people, and still continue to keep our same level of lethality.”