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Gas and Go: Eielson Airmen perform first hot pit refueling for F-35A

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Two U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning IIs assigned to the 356th Fighter Squadron wait to be refueled during a hot pit refueling at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, June 2, 2020. A hot pit refueling is the process of an aircraft landing, taxiing to the hot pit area, refuelling and taking off again while engines are running. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aaron Larue Guerrisky)

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U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Joshua C. Montoya, a 354th Aircraft Maintenance Unit F-35 dedicated crew chief, carries a fuel hose at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, June 2, 2020. This is the first time the F-35A Lightning II has been hot pit refueled at Eielson Air Force Base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aaron Larue Guerrisky)

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U.S. Air Force Col. David Skalicky, the 354th Operations Group commander, waits for his F-35A Lightning II to be hot pit refueled at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, June 2, 2020. Hot-pit refueling eliminates extra maintenance, decreases refueling time and extends the amount of training aircrew members receive during each flight. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aaron Larue Guerrisky)

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U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Joshua C. Montoya, a 354th Aircraft Maintenance Unit F-35 dedicated crew chief, stands by during a hot pit refueling at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, June 2, 2020. While refueling, maintenance Airmen communicate with pilots to gauge how much fuel is loaded into the aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aaron Larue Guerrisky)

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U.S. Air Force SrA Sean D. Johnson, a 354th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels distribution operator, records fuel levels at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, June 2, 2020. Hot pit refueling takes 30 minutes to an hour to execute, cutting the normal refueling time by half which enables pilots to take off into the skies quicker than normal. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aaron Larue Guerrisky)

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U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Michael Huegi, F-35 assistant dedicated crew chief, executes a hot pit refueling at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, June 2, 2020. The first hot pit refueling operation on the F-35A at Eielson signifies an important milestone for the 354th Fighter Wing and the 356th Fighter Squadron as they posture for the future fight. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aaron Larue Guerrisky)

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U.S. Air Force Col. David Skalicky, the 354th Operations Group commander, waits for his F-35A Lightning II to be hot pit refueled at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, June 2, 2020. Hot-pit refueling eliminates extra maintenance, decreases refueling time and extends the amount of training aircrew members receive during each flight. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aaron Larue Guerrisky)

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U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Michael Huegi, F-35 assistant dedicated crew chief, awaits to marshal an F-35A Lightning II assigned to the 356th Fighter Squadron during a hot pit refueling at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, June 2, 2020. Airmen from the 354th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels operations section and 356th Aircraft Maintenance Unit worked together to conduct the first hot pit refueling for the F-35 at Eielson. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aaron Larue Guerrisky)

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U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Michael Huegi, F-35 assistant dedicated crew chief, marshals an F-35A Lightning II assigned to the 356th Fighter Squadron during a hot pit refueling at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, June 2, 2020. A hot pit refuel allows aircraft to quickly re-launch for a sortie by fueling with the engine running. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Aaron Larue Guerrisky)

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska --

Airmen from the 354th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels operations section and the 356th Aircraft Maintenance Unit worked together to conduct the first hot pit refueling operation for the F-35A Lightning II at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, on June 2, 2020.

“Hot pitting is the hot refueling of aircraft with engines running,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Heath N. Krogmann, the 354th LRS fuels operations section chief.

The 354th LRS and 356th AMU worked together beforehand to ensure their Airmen were ready to receive the F-35, execute their mission and get it back in the fight.

“We all have to have a program for this type of refueling operation,” said Krogmann. 

The program is a three-step process which consists of classroom training, a supervised walkthrough allowing the Airmen a chance to observe hot pit refueling and concludes with the actual hot pit refueling operation.

“Through this phased approach we accomplish required training by working together. Individuals are then certified to perform the hot pits,” he said.

Hot pit refueling takes 30 minutes to an hour to execute, cutting the normal refueling time by half which enables pilots to take off into the skies quicker than normal.

Even in such a small window of time, a large amount of fuel can be supplied. More than 1,900 gallons of JP-8 jet fuel was supplied during this hot pit refueling. 

The fuel and equipment are absolutely necessary but it is teamwork between 354th LRS and Eielson maintainers that ensures the mission continues seamlessly.

“Partnership is vital to producing airpower especially when it comes to hot pits,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Charles H. Nichols, the 354th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron assistant superintendent. 

The role fuels operations plays during hot pit refueling is crucial and the Airmen within the section ensure the 354th Fighter Wing is prepared to project airpower.

“It allows the wing to utilize its equipment and people in a more efficient way,” said Krogmann. “It also allows our pilots to get back into the fight quicker.”

The first hot pit refueling operation on the F-35A at Eielson signifies an important milestone for the 354th Fighter Wing and the 356th Fighter Squadron as they posture for the future fight.