By LANCE CPL. ANTONIO RUBIO
Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni
TINIAN, Northern Mariana Islands—Navy MH-60 Seahawk helicopters and MV-22B Ospreys landed on Dec. 9 at the recently cleared Baker and Charlie runways on Tinian’s North Field during Exercise Forager Fury II.
The MH-60s executed forward arming and refueling point training while the Ospreys transported troops to the location during the exercise, which allows Marine Aircraft Group 12 to improve aviation combat readiness and will simulate operations in a deployed, expeditionary environment.
The MH-60s are with Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25, stationed at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, and the Ospreys are with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 262, MAG-36, currently assigned to MAG-12, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force for FFII.
“A FARP allows for expedient refueling, arming and de-arming of aircraft as well as providing the opportunity to get an aircraft forward to the fight without having to return back to a home port to get fuel,” said Gunnery Sgt. Earl Masterson, fuels chief with Marine Wing Support Squadron 171, MAG-12, 1st MAW, III MEF. “[Fuels] play a vital because we issue the fuel support that the aircraft needs to expediently refuel and carry out the reminder of its mission. Without the fuel, the FARP would no longer operate, and Forager Fury II would be a failure.”
The exercise encompasses fixed and rotary-wing flight operations allowing exploitation of several Marine aviation functions including assault support and fuel storage and distribution.
“The FARP is truly expeditionary in nature. The FARP support was designed to enable close air support for the infantry,” said Chief Warrant Officer Luc Brennan, fuels officer with MWSS-171. “We’ll move forward and provide an area for aircraft to refuel and re-arm in order to reengage [the mission].”
The purpose of the FARP is to create an advance location that reduces the turnaround time for aircraft and to rapidly project close air support as well as assault air support if MAG-12 is moving troops forward, according to Brennan.
Along with FARP operations, Marines at North Field repaired deteriorated runways and installed AM-2 matting for vertical take-off and landing of rotary aircraft, allowing the Osprey to land at North Field.
“The range proficiency of the Osprey assists not only this exercise, but the Pacific region as well,” said Capt. Adrian Evangelista, VMM-262 pilot. “With just one tank of gas and the option to aerial refuel, we can extend the range of the Osprey, which in turn extends the range of Marine aviation combat readiness.”
The inclusion of the Osprey during FF II provides a unique opportunity for MAG-12 to incorporate the diverse capabilities of the aircraft into MAG-level exercises.
“Although we are a fixed-wing squadron, at any time we can deploy forward, either during an exercise or contingency operations and we would be part of the plan to support FARP operations,” said Evangelista.
The MAW and MAG-level exercises and training on Guam and within the Mariana Islands Range Complex demonstrate the aviation combat element capabilities of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force. Aviation capabilities enable the MAGTF to project force or respond to crises throughout the Asia-Pacific region.