ATWATER, Calif. --
Marine aerial refueling tankers flew missions for a Marine Expeditionary Unit’s air-ground task force exercise that began March 20 at military and civilian installations throughout the state.
In KC-130J Hercules turboprop aircraft, Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 352 aviators tactically airlifted 11th MEU equipment and personnel March 26 and refueled an AV-8B Harrier jet March 28.
“(The squadron’s) support was a prime example of sharing military assets to allow the most realistic training,” said 1st Lt. Brendan Shue, assistant officer in charge of the MEU’s 1st Radio Battalion Detachment.
The 11th MEU, which is comprised of 2,200 Marines and sailors based at Camp Pendleton, is carrying out its exercise plans from Fort Hunter Liggett and getting ready for a deployment later this year.
The San Diego-based Raiders flew a dozen members of the 11th MEU’s embassy-liaison team from the remote Army post to Castle Airport in this San Joaquin Valley city, which served as a simulated sovereign country for the MEU’s training missions.
Squadron executive officer Maj. David Peterson piloted the refueling mission. The Hercules left Castle Airport and 25 minutes later circled 22,000 feet above Hunter Liggett.
Harrier pilot Capt. Daniel S. Fiust of Marine Attack Squadron 513 flew from the squadron’s home station in Yuma, Ariz., stopping to refuel at Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego.
The Harrier linked up three times to the Hercules via an aeronautical hose, taking on 2,206 gallons of fuel in total, according to Hercules loadmaster Staff Sgt. Robert Bardash.
Six of the Harrier squadron’s jets will reinforce the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s aviation combat element, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 166 (Reinforced) when the unit deploys.