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    Marines conduct aerial refueling with Moroccan Air Force as part of exercise African Lion 2011

    Marines conduct aerial refueling with Moroccan Air Force as part of exercise African Lion 2011

    Photo By Sgt. Zaid Dannsa | Captain Trip Littleton, a KC-130T Hercules aircraft pilot from Marine Aerial Refueler...... read more read more

    KENITRA, Morocco -- A Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 234 KC-130T Hercules aircraft cruised at 16,000 feet through bright white clouds while pumping hundreds of gallons of fuel through a connecting hose into a Moroccan Borak F-5 fighter jet here, May 19, as part of an aerial refueling mission.

    The C-130 was refueling the jet as part of African Lion 2011, a bilateral exercise between the Kingdom of Morocco and the U.S. involving more than 2,000 U.S. service members and approximately 900 members of the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces.

    “Cleared contact, ready to contact,” VMGR-234 pilot, Capt. Trip Littleton, transmitted into his headset to signal the F-5 100 meters to his rear right flank that the pilot was cleared to maneuver the jet fuel receiving probe into the C-130’s drogue prior to the two aircraft connecting in mid-flight.

    Meanwhile, Littleton kept his hands on his controls as he focused on keeping his plane steady and maintaining his air speed.
    “I have to keep a level steady platform so they (the F-5 pilot) can maneuver safely into position,” explained Littleton, a Fort Worth, Texas, native.

    Matching speeds at approximately 300 knots, the jet and the C-130 connected.

    In the cockpit, Sgt. Marc Aldrich, a C-130 flight engineer began flipping switches and turning knobs just above his head upon confirmation of a safe connection. He kept a close eye on several fuel pressure and tank quantity gauges as he offloaded fuel into the jet at 1,000 pounds per minute.

    “It’s a balancing act of giving them as much as we can without going below bingo (term used for minimum amount of fuel required to reach destination),” said Aldrich.

    Depending on the conditions, fuel transfer time can range anywhere from one minute to five, but the mission isn’t over till the planes disconnect safely. A mishap or improper disengagement could cause serious damage to both aircraft.

    “Disconnecting the planes safely is critical because it completes the mission and brings us back home safely,” said Littleton. “The mission isn’t over till we land.”

    A Marine Corps Reserve aviation unit based out of Fort Worth, VMGR 234’s primary mission of aerial refueling contributes to the long range capabilities of other aircraft.

    “It feels good helping somebody else complete their mission, especially when working with our international allies,” said Littleton.

    The Marines of VMGR-234 conducted several aerial refueling missions here with the Moroccans. The missions served to refresh important mission skills and increase the interoperability of the two nations’ military forces.

    Exercise African Lion is an annually scheduled, bilateral U.S.-Moroccan exercise. It is the largest exercise within the U.S. Africa Command area of responsibility, and is designed to promote interoperability and mutual understanding of each nation’s military tactics, techniques and procedures. All U.S. forces will return to their home bases in the United States and Europe at the conclusion of the exercise.



    Date Taken: 05.19.2011
    Date Posted: 05.24.2011 11:02
    Story ID: 70976
    Location: KENITRA, MA

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