“Dragons” blaze through ground refueling, extend fight
Ever since Orville and Wilbur Wright made their historic flight at Kitty Hawk, N.C., air travel has been the fastest method of transportation, limited primarily by the aircraft’s range.
Through extensive advancements in technology over the past century, aircraft can now fly longer, farther and faster than ever before. Even so, they are still limited by their amount of fuel.
Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 (Reinforced) “Dragons” executed the planning and setup of aviation-delivered ground refueling operations Feb. 5 at the Ie Shima training facility.
“ADGR operations allow the MV-22B (Osprey) to give fuel to other aircraft or ground vehicles, especially assets that cannot refuel in air,” said Maj. Bruce W. Vogelgesang, a pilot with VMM-265 (REIN), 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “We can land at an austere site, away from a friendly base or ship, give fuel to other assets, and increase their operating range.”
The ADGR system utilizes a pump that attaches to the mission auxiliary fuel tanks and pushes fuel through lengths of hose. The pump also has a switch, allowing it to pull fuel remnants from the hose to limit wasted resources.
“A helicopter can launch from a ship or base, fly to their max range, and receive fuel from an Osprey,” said Vogelgesang. “This will allow them to conduct operations in an objective area with maximum time on station. They can refuel and return to their launch station at maximum range. The Osprey can launch and refuel enroute to its landing station, allowing it to provide a critical resource at a maximum range.”
By establishing ADGR operations, the Osprey gives the Marine Corps another advantage in the field, according to Sgt. Duncan G. Edgington, a crew chief with the squadron.
“The ADGR skill gives the fleet more flexibility regarding when and where it can (provide) fuel,” said Edgington. “Since we can fuel both aircraft and ground vehicles, (the Osprey) could be used anywhere they need fuel.”
The Ospreys transport the fuel by internal mission auxiliary fuel tanks that can hold more than 2,000 pounds of fuel, and each aircraft can carry up to three tanks.
“Recent software updates to the aircraft allow us to give fuel from internal fuel tanks as well,” said Vogelgesang. “This increases the amount of fuel available to aircraft to approximately 12,000 pounds.”
Because of its extended range, ability to refuel in air, and ability to land at locations without a runway, the Osprey compliments the capabilities of other refueling aircraft to carry fuel, according to Cpl. Stephen Jarrell, a crew chief with the squadron.
The ADGR can also be used to refuel the Osprey itself, allowing for hours of added flight time, according to Jarrell. Currently, the system can only refuel while grounded, but modifications are being designed to allow for aerial refueling.
“The Osprey has already proven itself an immensely versatile aircraft,” said Jarrell. “Once the modifications are ready for use, who knows what’s next for the Osprey.”