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A UH-1Y Venom leads the way for an AH-1Z Viper flying by Mount Fuji, Shizuoka, Japan, March 12, 2017.

Thanks to the fuel tanks, that resemble torpedoes and are attached below both sides of the chopper bays, the helicopters demonstrated a 25% range increase

On Mar. 10-14, 2017 during flights based from Okinawa, Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) 267 carried out a mission that took them to various places in Japan in order to test the effectiveness of the new auxiliary fuel tank for the unit’s AH-1Z Viper and UH-1Y Venom helicopters.

The helos demonstrated a 25% range increase, told Capt. Christopher Millar, a UH-1Y Venom pilot with HMLA-267, a squadron deployed to Okinawa from Camp Pendleton, California, to Cpl. Andy Martinez, III Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF), for his article Marine helicopters soar farther than before with auxiliary fuel tanks.

“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.

Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 267 AH-1Z Viper and UH-1Y Venom helicopters past Mount Fuji, Shizuoka, Japan, March 12, 2017.

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

During the four-day mission, the squadron also paid visit to Osaka, Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) 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,” pointed out Millar.

Noteworthy as the H-1 helicopters arrive at their destinations, they can easily reconfigure for ordnance operations once their fuel tanks have been removed.

New auxiliary fuel tanks, like the one pictured, help AH-1Z Viper and UH-1Y Venom helicopters increase their range by more than 25%.

The fuel tanks, that 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,” explained Millar.

The increased range of the H-1 helicopters supports U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) 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.

HMLA-267 supports the Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) Commander by providing offensive air support, utility support, armed escort, and airborne support arms coordination, day or night, under all weather conditions, during expeditionary, joint, or combined operations.

This includes detachments to Marine Amphibious Units (MAUs) and Marine Expeditionary Units (MEUs).

Photo credit: Lance Cpl. Andy Martinez / U.S. Marine Corps

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