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AIRMOBILE FOWARD AREA REFUELING POINTS:  TACTICAL CAPABILITIES FOR THE MARINE CORPS
AUTHOR MAJOR G. W. McCUTCHEON, USMC
CSC 1988
SUBJECT AREA AVIATION
                     EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
TITLE:  AIRMOBILE FORWARD AREA REFUELING POINTS:  TACTICAL 
CAPABILITIES FOR THE MARINE CORPS
I.  Purpose:  To establish the necessity for the AFARP
helicopter refueling system in todays amphibious assault 
scenario.
II.  Problem:  With the advent of Over the Horizon (0TH)
amphibious assault being necessary to ensure surprise and
security, the present helicopter mix cannot provide enough
fuel endurance to support MAGTF operations.  The landing
craft cannot replace the helicopter and thus an efficient
helicopter range extender is necessary.
III. Data:  Marine Corps and Naval offensive doctrine in
amphibious operations recognizes the need to operate in the
0TH environment.  Typical ranges are expected to be beyond
12NM and as far out as 2OONM.  The optimum operating range
of our present helicopter mix is 3ONM from ATF to the beach
in the assault mode.  The helicopters are tasked with
getting the MAGTF ashore and accepting subsequent operations
in 90 minutes or less.  Helicopter transit time from beach
to ship and refueling time aboard ship will preclude this.
The presently available Helicopter Expeditionary Refueling
System (HERS) is very cumbersome, manpower intensive, and
vulnerable to attack.  The AFARP is available for use by all
tactical helicopters with the CH-53 D/E acting as the
refueler platform.  The CH-53 DIE can be easily modified to
accept AFARP with minimum expense in money or manpower.  A
CH-53 AFARP is a critical force multiplier by refueling
helicopters in minutes vice hours and in assault sites vice
refueling.
IV.  Conclusion:  The Marine Corps needs AFARP for its
operations today and it is available.  Accepting the AFARP
concept will fill the void in range experienced when the
ATF moves well beyond the horizon and the helicopter mix
remains fixed.
V.   Recommendations:  Authorize immediate modifications to
all CH-53 D/E systems to accept AFARP.  Navair should
purchase sufficient AFARP kits for all CH-53's in the Marine
Corps and an adequate spare parts supply.  The Marine Corps
and MAWTS-1 must anticipate scenarios for AFARP employment
and create doctrine for its use.
          AIRMOBILE FORWARD AREA REFUELING POINTS:
         TACTICAL CAPABILITIES FOR THE MARINE CORPS
                        OUTLINE
THESIS STATEMENT:  This paper will discuss the capabilities
of the CH-53 D/E forward area refueling system and its
impact on the Marine Corps' amphibious flexibility.
I.   Background
     A.  Present amphibious doctrine
     B.  Present helicopter weakness
     C.  Introduction to AFARP
II.  AFARP
     A.  Background development
          1.  General Kelly's message
          2.  HMH 463 and HMX-1 involvement
     B.  Comparison to HERS
     C.  CH-53 D evaluation
     D.  CH-53 E evaluation
     E.  Safety considerations
III. HERS System
     A.  Description
     B.  Comparison to CH-53 D/E
          1.  Advantages
          2.  Disadvantages
IV.  Tactical Scenarios
     A.  AFARP in Amphibious Raid
     B.  AFARP in Classic Amphibious Assault
         AIRMOBILE FORWARD AREA REFUELING POINTS:
        TACTICAL CAPABILITIES FOR THE MARINE CORPS
PART 1:  Background and Purpose
     Naval Weapons Publication (NWP) 22B Doctrine for
Amphibious Assault states:
     The salient requirement of the amphibious assault is
     the necessity of building up combat power ashore from
     an initial zero capacity to full coordinated striking
     power as the attack drives toward the amphibious task
     force objectives.
The Marine Corps is moving boldly into the future with the
advent of LCAC (landing craft; air cushion), the CH-53E
Super Stallion helicopter, and the MV-22 Osprey tilt rotor
assault aircraft.  In the short term, however, through 1995
- the helicopter mix of CH-53, CH-46, UH-1N and AH-1W will
remain the mainstays of the helicopter striking force
attempting to land Marines on hostile shores.  The U. S.
Navy already dictates that the Over-The-Horizon (0TH)
assault is key to survivability of the amphibious task force
against a sophisticated enemy.  The dilemma therefore, is to
find a means to effectively increase the fuel range of the
presently available helicopters or accept the unacceptably
slow buildup of combat power ashore.
     The present mix of Marine helicopters cannot build
combat power rapidly in the 0TH environment.  The distances
involved dictate that they be refueled repeatedly prior to
introduction of follow on waves beyond the assault echelon
(AE).  Current thought on the issue of getting the AE ashore
professes that Marine Expeditionary Units (MEU) and Marine
Expeditionary Brigades (MEB) must get the AE ashore in 90
minutes or less.1 Presently the doctrine of 0TH discusses
12-30 NM as 0TH ranges with 12 NM being the earth's
curvature point and 30 NM being the "optimum" out and back
range of loaded CH-46 helicopter.  The first assault wave of
helicopters must refuel aboard ship while picking up the
second wave of troops or it will not have sufficient fuel to
make the return trip from the beach.  While the helicopter
refuels it cannot load troops and it prevents other helos
from using that launch and recovery spot.  The remaining
helos fly in a Delta or Charlie (altitude and direction
around the ship) pattern, waiting for a landing spot,
wasting both time and fuel.  When the additional time for
airborne marshal (join up of the flight), and external lift
(pick-up of artillery and stores) is factored in, the
present mix of Marine helicopters is fuel and time critical
before ever turning the first rotor.
     Shall we just throw up our hands and hope we never
have to mount helicopterborne assault before 1995?
Certainly not!  There exists today off the shelf technology
     1U.S. Navy Department, Lone Term Amphibious Lift
Requirements and Optimum Ship Mix (u) (n.p. May 1983) p. 9
CONFIDENTIAL
and hardware that can dramatically extend the range and
flexibility of our present helicopter mix.  The system is
adaptable to the CH-53 D/E helicopters for dispensing and to
the CH-53, CH-46, UH-1N, and AH-1T for receiving.  Although
not yet tested the systems may have application to AV-8B
Harrier operations.  What is this new system?  It is the
Airmobile Forward Area Refueling Point system with the
emphasis on Airmobile.  The AFARP is an idea and a reality
whose time has arrived and is crucial to Marine
helicopterborne assault operations TODAY!
PART 2:  AFARP Description
     Evaluation of the AFARP was initiated in 1985. with
completion in June 1986.  Tactical helicopter squadron HMH-
463 at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii and HMX-1 at Quantico, Virginia,
utilized a close working relationship and exchange of data
to rigorously test the AFARP system with minimal duplication
of effort.  The final evaluation report Operational
Assessment of the CH-53 in Support of Forward Area Refueling
Point FARP Operations published by HMX-1 on 3 Oct 1986,
provides most of the technical material identified in this
section.  The charter to HMX-1 to follow on HMH-463
preliminary work was contained in the following statement:
     Conventional operations on the modern battlefield and
     Marine Corps Special Operations require helicopters to
     operate at extended ranges beyond that which is
     obtainable by their onboard fuel systems.  The
     internal range extension tanks available for the CH-46,
     CH-53, and the UH-1N and auxiliary internal tanks for
     the AH-1 are designed for administrative ferry flights,
     not combat.2
     General Kelly further critiqued the presently utilized
FARP system:
     Current methods available for range extensions involve
     the transport of fuel bladders, set up of a refueling
     point and other significant logistical support.  This
     logistical burden complicates the planning and
     execution of the originally assigned mission.3
     The evaluation of AFARP needed several tactical issues
addressed to give the evaluation purpose and direction.
     2U.S.Marine Corps, "Commandant of the Marine Corps
letter," APW-51, (Washington:  19 Feb 1986), p. 1
     3 Ibid. p. 2.
Among the issues considered were:
     a.  significant improvement in mobility and
survivability over HERS system.
     b.  enhances present and future amphibious doctrine.
     c.  contributes to logistics support concepts.
     d.  technology and hardware currently available.
     e.  aircraft modifications cannot be intensive or
effect airworthiness.
     f.  modifications must be cost effective.
     g.  system should be self contained, hand transportable
by maximum of two men and simple for maintenance at squadron
level.4
     The CH-53 D and E model, heavy lift helicopters were
selected for test platforms for two primary reasons:
     1.  Currently onboard plumbing (CH-53 D with airframe
change (AFC) 233) allows internal fuel to be transferred and
pumped outside the aircraft through the Mark 105 pump to
receiver aircraft.
     2.  CH-53 E with its vast lift capabilities for
external (sponson) fuel and internal bladders.  The CH-53 E
does not carry the MK 105 pump; however, the fuel dumping
system easily substitutes by simple modification of the
pumps themselves.
    4Hopkins, J. P., "Airmobile Forward Area Refueling
Points:  Concepts and Capabilities", unpublished paper
(Naval War College, Newport, RI, 1987), p. 6.
CH-53D.  The aircraft extends one or two fiIty foot
hoses to receiver aircraft and uses either one or two MK 105
pumps to transfer fuel to receiver aircraft.  CH-53 D
transfer rates are:
Click here to view image
     The CH-53 D can effectively refuel two CH-46
helicopters with a full fuel load in a maximum of 20 minutes
(includes system set up and breakdown time).  If the same
CH-46's had to transit to the amphibious ships for refueling
the turnaround time would easily triple and perhaps
quadruple.  Tactically the savings can be calculated in time
or depth capability of the assault.
     CH-53E.  The E model utilizes a minor modification to
the onboard fuel dumping system to create a fuel pumping
system.  The CH-53 E also doubles the fuel lift capability
of the CH-53 D while maintaining its own 100 NM combat
radius.  The CH-53 E transfer rates are:
Click here to view image
     *Port vice pump refuel is slower but is still
significant over return flights to amphibious ships.5
     Clearly the CH-53 E is a viable AFARP.  The total
onboard fuel for give away is 2700 gallons which is
sufficient for (4) CH-46's or (8) UH-1's or a combination.
     The CH-53 E maintains nearly 90 minutes flying time in
internal fuel after offload to receivers.  It can readily
climb up to meet a KC-130 for airborne refuel or return to
the amphibious ships for refuel or change of mission back to
its heavy lift role.
     Both the CH-53 D and E model are suitable to dispense
fuel for up to four (4) receiver aircraft and be on the
ground for a maximum of 25 minutes.  The ability to increase
range and survivability due to limited ground exposure time
was a criterion met by the AFARP hardware components.  The
system utilizes five (5) 50 foot sections of fuel hose with
integral electric continuity and safety valves to prevent
fuel spillage, "Y" couplings to divide fuel flow, a digital
flow meter, airframe adapters and compact fuel nozzles
providing for pressure or gravity fueling of two aircraft
simultaneously.  The entire system fits into DoD standard
cruise boxes and weighs about 200 pounds.6
     Safety.  The AFARP system has two significant features
     5U.S. Marine Corps, Operational Assessment of the CH-53
in Support of Forward Area Rearming and Refueling (FARP)
Operations., Marine Helicopter Squadron-1, (Quantico, VA: 3
Oct 1986) p. 4.
     6Ibid. p. 1.
which contribute strongly to administrative and tactical
safety.  First, the safety valves contained within three
separate areas of the fuel nozzles are significant
longevity providers.7  The valves are designed to break and
seal off fuel flow when stressed beyond safe limits.  One
scenario would involve enemy mortar or artillery fire
impacting in or near the refueling zone--a refueling
aircraft could immediately lift off out of danger without
waiting to disconnect the hose or valve.  The only price
paid is the one for a new breakaway valve or hose--neither
helicopter is harmed.  A second significant safety issue is
that the AFARP is a "closed system."  A closed system means
the clean transfer of fuel through sealed lines and nozzles
precluding the danger of fuel contamination.  At no time is
the fuel exposed to dust, dirt, or water--refueling in a
rainstorm presents no danger or contaminant or errant
electric current.
     7Ibid. p. 5
PART 3:  PRESENT SYSTEMS
             The Helicopter Expeditionary Refueling System (HERS)
fulfills the present needs of the Marine Corps.  However,
this system is large and cumbersome and cannot match the
demonstrated capabilities of AFARP.
     HERS is designed to operate in an internal or external
configuration.  Internally the helicopter must carry fuel
bladders and a massive 300 gph fuel pump to the refueling
site.  The fuel bladders are not crash resistant, leak badly
with temperature changes and are not built to be aviation
compatible.  The 300 gph fuel pump fills nearly 1/2 of the
CH-53 cargo area and requires a rough terrain forklift to
move it in or out of the aircraft.  If the fuel bladders and
pumps are carried externally the defensive maneuverability
of the helicopter is effectively destroyed.  The helicopter
is best defended using low altitude, high speed tactics and
external HERS units preclude this ability.
     A minimum of thirty minutes is required to setup a HERS
site and it further requires nine marines to setup and
operate the site.  Compare this with the six minute setup
and two man operation of the AFARP.  Breakdown of the HERS
is a slow, deliberate process which requires at least two
hours and nine marines.8 Fuel purging and replacing of
bladders make breakdown a tedious task.  In a hostile attack
     8 U.S. Navy Department, Assault Support Tactical Manual,
NWP 55-9-ASH  Vol. 1 (Rev. C), (Washington:  1985) p. J-4.
the HERS must be left in place while AFARP lifts off with
its components intact.
     The HERS can supply larger volumes of fuel than AFARP
if HERS is located near a Main Supply Route (MSR) and has
not been targeted or is beyond the enemy's range.9  In those
circumstances where sustained operations ashore are
necessary, HERS will be a definite asset to the landing
force helicopters.  Simply stated, AFARP will be the better
asset in operations lasting hours or days, while HERS and
follow-on refueling Combat Service Support Areas (CSSA) are
necessary for weeks and months ashore.
     In conclusion of Part 3, a summation of the advantages
and disadvantages of HERS and AFARP are in order.
     HERS Advantages:
          1.  Utilize helicopter maximum lift.
          2.  External cargo can be jettisoned in emergency.
          3.  Delivery aircraft can revert to other
missions.
          4.  Higher fuel volume delivered in benign
environment.
     HERS Disadvantages:
          1.  Locate only in "secure" area.
          2.  Large number of personnel required.
          3.  Heavy logistic requirement (MSR, forklifts).
          4.  Lacks mobility.
    9Ibid. p. J-1.
          5.  Not aircraft compatible design.
     CH-53 D Advantages:
          1.  Utilize helicopter maximum lift.
          2.  Minimum exposure time at AFARP site.
          3.  Flexibility to create an AFARP site where
necessary.
          4.  Helicopter maneuverability is not effected.
          5.  No HERS equipment in cabin or external.
          6.  Extends assault force range and speed.
          7.  Quick response (liftoff) capability in
emergency.
          8.  INEXPENSIVE and off shelf hardware.
          9.  Fuel give away up to 2100 gallons.
          10. Self deployable.
          11. Lightweight--two man operation.
     CH-53 D Disadvantages:
          1.  Not in all CH-53 D's.
          2.  Aircraft is exposed on deck often beyond FEBA
or FBHL for short periods.
          3.  Aircraft is taken away from assault echelon
(carrying of artillery or heavy stores).
     CH-53 E Advantages:
          1.  All CH-53 D advantages apply.
          2.  Increased fuel give away up to 2700 gallons.
          3.  Faster fuel flow at 86 gpm.
          4.  Refuel up to 4 aircraft simultaneously.
          5.  Can aerial refuel itself for quicker return to
AFARP site.
     CH-53 E Disadvantages:
          1.  Not yet approved for general use.
          2.  Initially detracts from assault support
assets. 10
     10 OPCIT.  Hopkins. p. 11-12.
PART 4:  TACTICAL SCENARIOS FOR AFARP EMPLOYMENT
     Part 1 utilized a quote from NWP-22B,: discussing the
urgency of building combat power ashore from zero to full
striking power moving toward the amphibious task force
objectives.  In the traditional Marine Corps role of
amphibious assault this was and continues to be a necessity.
However, what application would the AFARP concept have on
the amphibious raid scenario with a quick thrust and quick
withdrawal?
     Scene 1--AFARP in the Amphibious Raid--Hostage Rescue.
Permissive Air Threat Environment.
     A group of U. S. citizens require rescue from a hostile
government and are in a known location.  The local media
reports the hostages are being beaten and perhaps killed.  A
forward deployed MEU is 0TH about 50 NM from the enemy coast
and formulates its rescue plan.
     A rescue package of four CH-46, four AH-1W and four CH-
53 E helicopters is prepared.  The CH-53 E's are all fitted
with maximum internal and external auxiliary fuel and AFARP
hardware.
     The distance from the MEU to the target is 250 NM,
which creates a 500 NM round trip.  Conservatively, the CH-
46's and AH-1's will require four AFARP refueling points and
will then arrive nearly empty on return to the MEU.
     A KC-130 tanker is available for aerial refuel in a
tactical manner at low altitude for the CH-53 E AFARP
helicopters.  The CH-53 E arrives at the AFARP sites with
nearly full fuel for their use and giveaway.  Figure 1
graphically depicts Scene 1.
Click here to view image
     Scene 2--Generic 0TH Assault
     The basic 0TH assault was devised to achieve surprise
and maintain better defense against a sophisticated enemy.
0TH assaults take on characteristics as follow:11
     1.  Standoff ranges of 12 to 200 NM.
     2.  The majority (2/3) of the assault echelon (AE)
lands by helicopter and perhaps in entirety if beach is not
AAV or LCAC capable.
     3.  Current helicopters can support 0TH assaults only
out to 30 NM.
     4.  Combat power must come ashore on first wave.
     5.  High tech, high combat multiplier weapons must be
in first wave.
     6.  Amphibious ship deck space will be at a premium.
     0TH assaults nearly remove AAV's from serious
consideration as assault echelon vehicles.  Due to slow
speed and the impracticality of expecting Marines to fight
after a 12-30 NM AAV ride, the AAV will not survive a
contested 0TH assault.  The Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC)
allows for swift transit to the beach but carries only open
bay cargo and is not suitable for assault troops.
     Only the helicopter and the future MV-22 Osprey have
the inherent speed and flexibility to employ a MAGTF ashore
with coordinated combat power.  Once ashore however, the
     11 Wheeler, James R., "Fire Support for the Over-the-
Horizon Amphibious Assault", Marine Corps Gazette, (Dec.
1985), pp 39-43.
helicopter is fuel limited toward its ability to accept
follow-on missions.  Only the AFARP can provide the needed
fuel in an efficient manner to make the assault echelon
helicopter viable for secondary and tertiary missions.
PART 5--Conclusions
     The AFARP system of refueling from CH-53 D/E model
helicopters is a MAGTF force multiplier of the first
magnitude.  Although it has minor weaknesses in bladder
leakage (E model) and crashworthiness; the AFARP shines in
its advantages.12  The system is available NOW in a low
cost, off the shelf, light weight, low manpower
configuration.  When used by itself or in conjunction with
the HERS, the AFARP significantly reduces the helicopters
main weakness--ENDURANCE.
     When the helicopter is freed of the burden of continual
transit to the amphibious ship for fuel, it is at the
disposal of the supported commander.  The Ground Combat
Element (GCE) is able to maneuver continually over rough or
impassable terrain with helicopter refueling taking place on
site vice miles and hours away.  The survivability of the
helicopter, the GCE and perhaps even the Amphibious Task
Force is enhanced by the use of AFARP.
     Presently, there is no aviation doctrine for the
employment of AFARP but the potential is there to create the
doctrine.  In this sense, the hardware and doctrine could
grow together as an integrated weapon system.  Wouldn't
that be an original thought?
     12 OPCIT. Hopkins. p. 25.
                      BIBLIOGRAPHY
Hopkins, J. P. "Airmobile Forward Area Refueling Points:
     Concept and Capabilities", unpublished paper.  (Naval
     War College, Newport, RI:  1987)
U. S. Defense Technical Information Center, Operational
     Conceits for Amphibious Assault Operations 1985-1995
     (u) (Alexandria, VA:  DLA (u) SECRET.
U. S. Marine Corps, "Commandant of the Marine Corps letter",
     APW-51, (Washington:  19 Feb 1986).
U. S. Marine Corps, Forward Area Refueling Points (FARP)
     Planning, MAWTS-1, Yuma, AZ:  1986).
U. S. Marine Corps, Operational Assessment of the CH-53 in
     Support of Forward Area Rearming and Refueling (FARP)
     Operations, Marine Helicopter Squadron-I, (Quantico,
     VA:  3 Oct 1986).
U. S. Navy Department, Assault Support Helicopters Tactical
     Manual, NWP 55-9-ASH vol. 1 (Rev.C), (Washington:
     1985).
U. S. Navy Department, Doctrine for Amphibious Assault; NWP-
     22 B, (Washington:  1984).
U. S. Navy Department, Lone Term Lift Requirements and
     Optimum Ship Study Mix (U), (n.p. May 1983)
     Confidential.
Wheeler, James R., "Fire Support for Over-the-Horizon
     Amphibious Assaults", Marine Corps Gazette, (Dec.
     1986).



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