HMLA-269 training with FARP
US Marine Corps, July 31, 2014 - MARINE CORPS OUTLYING FIELD CAMP DAVIS, NC by Cpl Jackeline Perez Rivera - A Forward Arming and Refueling Point was established at Marine Corps Outlying Field Camp Davis, near Holly Ridge, N.C., to support aircraft and provide real-world training experience to Marines from Marine Corps Air Station New River from July 8 through 10.
The FARP allowed Marines from Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 269 to refuel and reload near training areas despite construction at MCAS New River’s Combat Aircraft Loading Area, said Capt. David Fickle, the officer in charge of the FARP and the Airfields Operation Company Commander with Marine Wing Support Squadron 274.
The troops in the sky were there to perform close air support training with 2nd Marine Division’s 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment.
On the ground, teams of bulk fuel, aircraft ordnance, mobile air traffic control, and fire and emergency personnel ensure the aircraft are ready to participate in the exercise.
As an aircraft landed on Camp Davis, Marines stood by along the edges of the landing site and swarmed it, topping off fuel and loading the weapons with ammunition in quick practiced movements.
If the site was not available, the aircraft would have to travel to Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point to refuel and reload, said Fickle. At Camp Davis, the aircraft can be serviced in close proximity to their home in New River and the range.
“We’re enabling them to go and do their shoots,” Gunnery Sgt. Dione Briscoe, the fuels chief with MWSS-274. “They can continue to train. We support them so they can do what they need to do.”
The FARP is imperative so the Marines can train effectively, he added.
It’s a job they do quickly. Within 45 minutes of touching down, the aircraft are back in the sky.
The process was previously much quicker; many aircraft have transitioned from linked rounds to individual rounds which must be fed into the weapon.
Fickle emphasized competence over speed.
“There are a lot of dynamics to consider,” said Fickle. “If we’re doing things smoothly and using the proper procedures, it will produce the most efficient results.”
While competence and speed are important, safety is paramount, he added.
“You want to do it as quickly as possible to get the birds back in the sky, but we’re always looking to be as safe as possible,” said Lance Cpl. Michael Trentman, an aircraft ordnance technician with HMLA 269.
It’s not just the safety of the service members taken into account, berms surround fuel vehicle, protecting the environment from spills.
“One of our priorities is to deliver the fuel in a safe manner,” said Fickle. “We are always ready to respond if any spill should happen.”
It’s important to protect nearby communities, Fickle added.
Throughout the week, the Marines filled and reloaded aircraft 18 times with 200 to 300 gallons of fuel each time.
“In order for them to have the most on-station time possible in a realistic training environment this FARP is absolutely critical,” said Fickle.
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HMLA-269 Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 269 US Marine Corps
Camp Davis MCOLF Heliport