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Marine Helicopters Soar Farther Than Before With Auxiliary Fuel Tanks

Marine Helicopters Soar Farther Than Before With Auxiliary Fuel Tanks

Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 267 used new auxiliary fuel tanks to fly the AH-1Z Viper and UH-1Y Venom helicopters farther than ever, during flights based from Okinawa, March 10-14.

The helicopters demonstrated a 25% range increase, according to Capt. Christopher Millar, a UH-1Y Venom pilot with HMLA-267, a squadron deployed to Okinawa from Camp Pendleton, California.

“This allows us to support the Marines of III MEF as we project our power further and increase our capability with the fuel tanks,” said Millar, who is supporting Marine Air Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III MEF, through the unit deployment program.

Millar flew one of the helicopters that broke the record, logging 314 nautical miles during a flight from Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Okinawa, to New Tanegashima Airport, Japan, March 10.

Lt. Col. Jon Livingston, the commanding officer of HMLA-267, confirmed that this was the longest recorded Venom or Viper flight ever.

During the four-day mission, the squadron also visited Osaka, Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, and Camp Fuji, Japan.

“The auxiliary fuel capability gives the Marine Air Ground Task Force commander the ability to respond to crises and deploy our forces from the most northern reaches to southern reaches of the area of operations,” said Millar, a native of Saint Louis.

Once the H-1 helicopters arrive at their destinations, they can easily drop their fuel tanks and reconfigure for ordnance operations. The fuel tanks, which resemble torpedoes, attach below both sides of the helicopter bays.

“The auxiliary fuel systems provide the MAGTF commander scalable options to be able to move his assets around the area of operations without relying on strategic lift,” said Millar.

The increased range of the H-1 helicopters supports Marine Corps operations in responding to crises, maintaining a deterrent, forward presence, carrying out combat operations, and providing humanitarian assistance.

“With these auxiliary fuel tanks, I believe it gives H-1’s a greater ability to self-deploy and to help the Marines on the ground,” Millar said. “[The H-1’s] also help III MEF fulfill the ‘Fight Tonight’ motto and project our power further ashore.”

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Gresham, C.E. SSGT of Marines - May 31, 2020

Sounds a bit scary to be sharing a cabin with aux fuel, but for the Cobras, the aux fuel is OUTBOARD on the pylons not on the inside. There isn’t an “inside” unless you count the ammo bay, but it’s not plumbed for fuel. Additionally, when we were on WestPac and at Guam for a few days, we ran a training/support mission up to Tinian (same airfield on the north side that loaded and launched both atomic bombs). For that, we loaded an aux fuel bag aboard a CH-53, along with a small ordnance crew and me so we could practice remote ops by conducting live fire, arm/disarm, and hot refuel. The fuel bag wasn’t plumbed to the bird, but it was on board with us for the 45 minute hop. And, there was NO smoking onboard that flight, either.

Mike Johnson - May 31, 2020

In 1961, while with HMR 263 stationed at MCAS Futema,Okinawa, my squadron flew 2 HR 61’S to Japan on aux. tanks. No smoking for almost 41/2 hours. We had Hugh fuel tanks in the main troop area of the bird. This was the scariest flight anyone of us was ever on. To my knowledge, this was not tried again until the above post.

Gresham, C.E. SSGT of Marines - May 31, 2020

Oorah to the new Viper! I was a fire control tech with HMA-169 “Vipers” from ’86-’89, when we started the Marine Corps’ transition to the AH-1 Whiskey; and all squadrons became HMLAs with 12 and 12 (UH/AH). It was a thrill to be on the cutting edge of a new “system” like this, since 169 personnel helped with the incorporation of the aircraft into the USMC inventory. Then we made the first WestPac with it in ’88 aboard the USS Peleliu. That was a great and successful shakedown deployment, and i enjoyed every moment of that 6 months. I would relish being with 169 again, being Vipers and having Vipers! There is NOTHING so potent, flexible, reliable, and as valuable to the Corps and its mission as the AH. Sempler Fi and long live the Cobra!

Bulldogman - May 31, 2020

How I would have liked to have been a “flying Marine”.

Charles Treadway - May 31, 2020

I was stationed with HMLA-267 in 1972, of course at that time it was known as HML-267. I was the Armorer in charge of the Armory.

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