Working together is exactly what petroleum supply specialists from Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, and 3rd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, both assigned to the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, did to refuel three UH-60 Black Hawks and an AH-64 Apache attack helicopter during training in Forward Arming and Refueling Point (FARP) procedures at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii Feb. 5, 2020. Soldiers practice fueling procedures by utilizing a field expedient method commonly referred to as “Fat Cow.” This method consists of using the U.S. Army CH-47F Chinook helicopter from Bravo Company, 3-25 as a fuel source for other aircraft.
The Soldiers executing the operation know there is risk associated with completing the mission, fuelers know they are depended on to make it happen. Depending on the configuration, a CH-47 can hold up to three external fuel tanks with a total capacity of 2,400 gallons (16,000 lbs), however we usually only utilize the one tank (800 gallon/5400 lb option) during training. This method allows for Forward Arming and Refueling Points (FARP) in areas where ground resources may not be feasible. A Fat Cow is a rapidly employed FARP that is ideally suited for short duration, forward operations. It is also cleared within minutes and utilizes pressure refuel for faster aircraft turnaround times. The Fat Cow is a lethality multiplier on the battlefield.
Fat Cow exercises not only build the capability and readiness of the unit, but the event serves as a mechanism for junior leaders (both Aviation and Forward Support) to coordinate across the aviation brigade and develop a better understanding of each airframe’s unique capabilities. It provides forward elements (usually AH-64’s) a quick refuel and rearm so they can get back to the fight and provide more station time. U.S Army conduct Fat Cows at least every quarter for training and certification of leaders and fuelers. We also have executed them for real world scenarios and built into future air assault operations. There is no fancy name for this exercise; It’s called “Fat Cow” because it’s a big aircraft full of fuel.