This Handy Trick Shortens Refueling Pit Stops for the F-35

An old-school solution for the military’s newest fighter.

A hot-pit allows aircraft to refuel without turning the engine off and quickly return to the air.

Airmen from the 366th Logistics Readiness Squadron, a.k.a. “Gunfighters,” devised an old-tech solution for reducing the hot-pit refueling time of F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters.

Initially, they used R-11 trucks. Each holds 6,000 gallons, enough for refueling only two aircraft at a time. So the Gunfighters instead rigged up a hydrant system from the 1950s with hose carts from the 1970s, directly connected to 500,000-gallon tanks.

Now they can run hot-pits 24/7, saving the 15 minutes previously needed to set up a new R-11 between two F-35s.

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This story is a selection from the September issue of Air & Space magazine

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