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Lance Cpl. Daniel J. Calderon III signals to the fuel truck that he is ready for fuel Aug. 31 at Al Asad, Iraq. Calderon is an EA-6 fixed-wing mechanic with Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 3, Marine Central Command. The Marines with VMAQ-3 have adopted a new fueling process that greatly reduces the time an aircraft is on the ground.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Brian J. Holloran

'Moon Dogs' implement new fueling process

13 Sep 2006 | Lance Cpl. Brian J. Holloran

The Marines at Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 3, Marine Central Command, have implemented a new refueling process to support the aviation mission in Iraq. This process is designed to get their EA-6B Prowlers back into the air with minimal delay.

"To ensure mission success, our aircraft need to land, refuel and get back into the air quickly," said Sgt. Tony A. Grimes, an EA-6 fixed-wing mechanic and quality assurance representative for VMAQ-3.

The Moon Dogs evaluated the situation upon arriving in country and devised a plan to speed up the fueling process when jets come in.

"We opened a refueling station near our hangar," said Sgt. Keith A. Reitz, an EA-6 fixed-wing mechanic for VMAQ-3. "It allows us to cut hours off of our refueling time.

"Our new method has the aircraft landing and then taxiing over to the refueling area. Once the jet gets close, our ordnance Marines run out and safe all the aircraft's armament," added the Salem, Ohio, native. "We then safety the landing gear, and have the pilot shut down the right engine. After all that is done, we fill up the aircraft. As soon as it's full, we send it out again. This new process takes approximately 30 minutes."

The old refueling process took nearly eight times as long as the current process, according to Grimes, a native of Venice, Fla.

"The old process had us shutting down the entire aircraft and then performing a cold refueling," added Grimes. "After the fueling we had to do a preflight inspection and check the whole jet from head-to-toe again. It took nearly four hours before the jet was ready to go back up."

The Marines throughout VMAQ-3 realize this new process is an essential time saver and will ultimately make their squadron a more effective weapon in the war on terrorism.

"With this new method of refueling, our aircraft is more efficient and makes us more effective," said Reitz. "With the hot fueling, we are able to keep our birds in the air and effectively impede the enemy's progress. That's what the Moon Dogs do."
3rd Marine Aircraft Wing