Through a whirl of dust and grass, C-130J Hercules crews have rehearsed Forward Arming and Refuelling Point (FARP) missions during Exercise Diamond Storm.
At RAAF Base Darwin, the Hercules was able to offload fuel to US Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey and UH-1Y Venom, and the Australian Army’s own Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter (ARH) Tiger.
Whilst it’s not the first time the Hercules crews have conducted FARP with either service, regular practice ensures the RAAF is prepared to provide this capability on operations.
The opportunity to practice FARP also enabled the training of ground personnel from the Australian Army’s 1st Aviation Regiment.
FLTLT Alex White, No. 37 Squadron Detachment Commander said the reason why FARP is important is that it allows the C-130J to land and become a fuel station in a place that it’s otherwise difficult to get fuel stocks to.
“This can be because it’s too dangerous or too soon to get the fuel there by road, or there’s geographic boundaries, like mountains, floodwaters, or an ocean, prohibiting the traditional road delivery of fuel,” FLTLT White said.
“Using helicopters in the Asia Pacific can be limited by the range/speed needed to deploy them – but FARP can increase their range.”
Captain (CAPT) Rhys Davies, ARH Tiger Pilot confirmed FARP extends combat range considerably.
“Being able to refuel from anywhere a C-130J can land, allows the ARH to stay in the fight longer and get back to supporting the soldier on the ground sooner,” CAPT Davies said.
Echoing this, Warrant Officer Class 2 (WO2) Nathan Winnacott from the 6th Aviation Regiment said FARP provides a force multiplying effect for the ADF’s rotary wing capability.
“C-130J FARP allows us to project into austere environments in support of Defence directed missions,” WO2 Winnacott said.