MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. --
The 341st Operations Group and 40th Helicopter Squadron recently initiated missile alert facility helicopter refueling operations here, where seven of Malmstrom’s 15 MAFs installed helicopter refueling capabilities to expedite the refueling process.
This capability allows the UH-1N helicopters of the 40th HS to refuel while supporting missions without spending extra time traveling across Malmstrom’s 13,800-square mile missile complex.
“Less flight time to a refuel station means more time in the air providing security for (intercontinental ballistic missile) movements, maintenance, and search and rescue operations,” said Master Sgt. Joseph Cox, 40th HS operations superintendent.
Before the refueling initiative, the helicopters would travel to a civilian airfield, sometimes more than 75 miles away, and have to wait for someone to come in when needing a refuel outside of normal business hours.
“With MAF refueling there are no closed business hours, which is important when our missions run into the evening or we have a rescue in the middle of the night,” said Cox. “(Before) we would have to call the civilian airfield manager who would have to call their personnel in to refuel us.”
With the MAF refueling capability, the aircrew can call the facility manager at the closest of the seven refueling stations and coordinate a refuel within a 15-minute flight time.
All 15 of Malmstrom’s MAFs were equipped with helicopters pads, but the MAFs identified as refueling stations received new helicopter pads and missile field refuelers (MF-R) were installed.
“The MF-R is a 1,000 gallon tank that can pump 59 gallons a minute to the helicopter,” said Tech. Sgt. Nathaniel Davison, 341st OG facility manager evaluator. “It can refuel the helicopter in about three minutes so they can get back in the air and return to their mission.”
Missile alert facility managers attended training classes where they learned how to operate the MF-R, safely handle and test the jet fuel, and properly refuel a helicopter.
“On the last day of the class we did an actual refuel and went through the whole refueling process with a flight engineer and a helicopter on the flight line,” said Davison.
Some flight engineers received training with the facility managers, while other flight engineers and the pilots received annual supervisor refuel training and supplemental MAF refuel training. Malmstrom performed its first refuel March 21, and has completed seven helicopter refuels to date.