Photo Information

A pilot with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 161 aims to connect to a KC-130J Super Hercules to receive fuel in flight aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., Oct. 24. The pilots used this training to remain qualified in aerial refueling.

Photo by Cpl. Melissa Eschenbrenner

One team, one fight; two squadrons work together for readiness

25 Oct 2013 | Cpl. Melissa Eschenbrenner

High above the clouds, two MV-22B Ospreys fly in need of fuel. Luckily, there is a KC-130J Super Hercules flying with them to provide aerial refueling so they can continue without stops.

Ospreys with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 161 and a Super Hercules with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 352 conducted the exercise to practice aerial refueling aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., Oct. 24.

“[Being able to refuel in flight] gives us a lot of time in the air,” said Sgt. Jacob Luksha, a crew chief with VMM-161 and a Houston native. “We could be flying in Afghanistan on an eight-hour mission with about three hours of gas and without landing anywhere, we can refuel and go back to continue the mission.”

The two squadrons worked together for pilots to practice aligning the aircraft for connecting and to hone in on their communication skills.

“We communicate initially,” said Capt. Patrick McCammond, a pilot with VMM-161 and a Morehead City, N.C., native. “They control us as we’re moving around them. The exercise helps us to have brevity. You tell them what you need, they give you what you want and move out of the way for the next person.”

Although the Ospreys can not connect at the same time, it was important to have both flying together so the Super Hercules’ pilots can practice communicating with multiple aircraft at once and to make the training as realistic as possible for all involved, explained McCammond.

“I think it allows Marines to maintain proficiency,” said McCammond. “If pilots and air crew don’t work together you might lose [their skills]. You have to be in the environment frequently to maintain what you do and to improve.”

The pilots and air crew train as often as it takes to ensure everyone is proficient and qualified. Without aerial refueling, the dangerous conditions in combat can become even more hazardous.