34th AMU Airmen train on refueling procedures
By 75th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 10, 2016
HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah --
Aircraft maintainers took part in proficiency training here Nov. 8 with their goal being improved mission effectiveness.
Airmen from the 34th Aircraft Maintenance Unit here accomplished hot refueling operations – commonly called ‘hot pits’ – on running F-35A Lightning II fighter jets.
Hot pits operations allow for a faster refueling process since the pilot does not have to shut down the aircraft. Airmen train on hot pits to increase aircraft availability and provide operators more training opportunities to hone their war-fighting abilities.
“Once the aircraft has been shutdown there are lengthy but crucial inspections that are required before the pilot can restart and continue his assigned mission,” said Senior Master Sgt. Robert Soto, 34th AMU lead production superintendent. “The process of hot pits dramatically shortens the amount of time compared to all that is required in the conventional shut down refuel.”
Hot pits training takes approximately two weeks and involves classroom lessons where in-depth function and safety procedures are taught. From there, Airmen perform hands-on operations on non-running, or static, aircraft. Once the Airmen become proficient with the technical data and processes, they then perform hot pits tasks on running aircraft where they are evaluated by a hot-pits certifier.
“After the certifier confirms the maintainer’s ability, the individual will have their training records processed,” said Soto. “Finally, the individual can complete the procedure on his or her own.”
To maintain hot pits proficiency, training here occurs on an as-needed basis. While the classroom portion of training is not frequent, hot pits operations are performed weekly and this enables pilots and maintainers to stay proficient.
F-35s are flown and maintained by Hill Airmen assigned to the active-duty 388th Fighter Wing and its Reserve component 419th Fighter Wing.