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An F-35B Lightning II with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 121 “Green Knights” flies alongside a KC-130J Super Hercules with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron (VMGR) 352 over Southern California, March 8. The two F-35Bs completed additional training after successfully conducting an aerial refuel with VMGR-352. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Lillian Stephens/Released)

Photo by Sgt. Lillian Stephens

Flying high: F-35B Lightning II conducts aerial refuel

17 Mar 2016 | Story by Sgt. Lillian Stephens 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing

Marines with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron (VMGR) 352 supported the aerial refueling mission of two F-35B Lightning II aircraft with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 121 during a training flight over Southern California, March 8.

According to Sgt. Christopher Coxe, a crew master with VMGR-352 and a New Orleans native, a KC-130J Super Hercules will extend hoses to dispense fuel to a receiving aircraft. The receiving aircraft will connect its probe with the hose and receive fuel.

The two F-35Bs were able to complete this maneuver several times during the flight.

“The ability to refuel in flight is critical for the supportability and the sustainability of the F-35B during real-world operations,” said Capt. Jimmy Braudt, a pilot with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 121 and a Dallas native. “It is a force multiplier that allows us to project the fight to the enemy.”

According to Capt. Graham Denniston, a pilot with VMGR-352 and a Walnut Creek, California native, aerial refueling is an important capability for the Lightning II.

“Aerial refueling extends the range of the receiver aircraft, thus allowing longer on-station time for such missions as close air support and combat air patrol,” said Coxe.

After the two fighter jets completed the aerial refuel, they went on to complete tactical intercept training.

“The training was successful,” said Denniston. “[It enabled Marines] to gain and maintain proficiency in the actual refueling process.”

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