Mission Planning Information

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CROSS-COUNTRY DRAG MISSION PLANNING INFORMATION

Overview:  Omega will typically base out of an airfield somewhere in the Midwest for east-west cross country drag missions. For west-east cross country drag missions, Omega will base somewhere along the Rocky Mountains. The rendezvous between Omega and the receivers will usually take place on a scheduled Air Refueling track as close to a direct route of flight for the receivers as possible. After Omega and the receivers are joined, Omega will lead the flight on a normal ATC approved flight plan and block altitude or on an ALTRV, if required, and will conduct random air refueling along the way. Omega will separate from the flight after the last top off 500-700 nm from the destination, depending on fuel needs of the receivers and Omega.

Offload capability:  70-90k, depending on how far Omega needs to travel to the rendezvous track, how long the wait for the join-up is, how far we need to stay with the receivers, and how far Omega needs to travel to land after separating from the receivers. On average, up to 4 aircraft can normally be dragged on a CONUS cross-country, (up to 6 if the drag count is low or if sufficient external tanks are carried) but the actual number will be based upon offload available for the specific flight duration.   

Refueling/Cruising speeds: Refueling speeds are typically between 280-290 KIAS or as requested by the receivers. Enroute transit speeds are typically 300 KIAS (420-450 TAS depending on altitude), but will increase or decrease as required by the receivers and/or Omega to achieve a maximum range profile. If less than the planned numbers of receivers arrive for the drag, the transit speeds can easily be increased to reduce the transit time.

ATC considerations: The route of flight after join-up will normally be off airways to make the flight as direct as possible.  In order to expedite and ease the separation, make sure to file with the entire route to the ultimate destination and that the filed route matches Omega's route while joined together.  Ensure Omega has your filed route and requested altitude after the separation to coordinate with ATC. If there is a flight plan problem, Omega can try to work with Center to get the best clearance.  If the controller is very busy, the receivers will need to air-file with a FSS en-route.  In order to expedite and ease the separation, try to plan for the separation of Omega and the receivers to occur in the middle of a center's airspace, not near the end of the airspace (as depicted on the high charts).  For example: on East-West drags from Oceana-Fallon, the typical separation point in Colorado is right on the line between 2 centers.  The receivers should stay with Omega for an extra 100 miles to be established in the new center's airspace.  Separation is also easier if not completed in a busy airspace.  For example: on drags from W-291 to Whidbey, the typical separation point can be as early as San Francisco. This is a very busy airspace with busy ATC radios.  Stay with Omega until clear of the area.  For altitude planning, do not plan to use blocks that involve altitudes both above and below FL240, as this is the separation between ATC areas of responsibility.  Have the block altitude remain entirely under or over FL240.

DD175 and preflight planning/briefing guidance: On your DD175 in the remarks section, put- "MARSA Omega XX (where XX is the Omega tanker callsign- usually either 70 and/or 71) Random AR from YY-ZZ" (where YY is the initial rendezvous point, usually an AR track, and ZZ is the expected final AR and flight separation point. Be sure to pass your callsign to Omega for our flight plan filing purposes. The day prior to the event, the Omega captain/mission commander will call the flight to discuss any specifics and or change a standard routing based on weather. Since the tanker(s) will likely positioning the day prior, this call will likely be in the later afternoon or early evening. The squadron should pass the off-duty phone number to Omega to enable this coordination. Omega will pass the phone number of the captain/mission commander to the lead/Ops Dept. The day of the event, the SDO should use this number to call and update the tanker on any launch delays and finally call them immediately after the flight departs. Omega uses this call to base the timing for launch to arrive at the meeting point at the correct time without getting there early and wasting fuel (offload).

Cargo and Maintenance Crew Transport: Cargo and a small maintenance team may travel on Omega, but this changes the dynamics of the cross-country mission, as it requires Omega to launch and recover with the receivers. Please contact Omega to discuss specifics.

Sample Mission Profiles

Omega has had success dragging 1 division, in almost any weapons configuration, at a time across the United States, such as from Oceana-Fallon, Whidbey Island-Norfolk, or Beaufort-Yuma. Up to 6 receivers have crossed together, provided that the drag count on the receiver aircraft was small and the winds manageable. Planning figures will vary slightly with each mission, but the following can be used for basic initial planning.  Using two tankers typically allows an entire squadron to transit simultaneously from origin to destination.

NAS Fallon- NAS Oceana/MCAS Cherry Point: There are two basic options here. Omega will normally base from Salina, KS and use the AR201. The drop off point is near St Louis. Offload is near 90k. For triple-bubble F/A-18C/Ds, up to 8 aircraft drags are possible. Double-bubble F/A-18C/D's, up to 6 aircraft. The route below has worked for aircraft going to KNTU.  Since there are options on either end of this drag, just the MARSA portion is below:

As filed from NAS Fallon...HVE222038 AR 201 ALS266060 (Exit AR201) GCK BUM ENL... then as filed to NAS Oceana or MCAS Cherry Point

The second option

NAS Fallon- MCAS Beaufort: Omega will normally base from Salina, KS and use the AR201. The drop off point is near Memphis. Offload is near 90k. For triple-bubble F/A-18C/Ds, up to 8 aircraft drags are possible. Double-bubble F/A-18C/D's, up to 6 aircraft. The route below has worked for aircraft going to KNBC.  Since there are options on either end of this drag, just the MARSA portion is below:

DVC257028 AR201ALS266060(Exit AR201) LBL TUL MEM... then as filed to Beaufort

MCAS Yuma-MCAS Beaufort/MCAS Cherry Point: Omega will normally base from Amarillo, TX and use the AR13, AR104E, or AR113. The most fuel can typically be offloaded using the AR13 (85k-90k). The drop off point is in Mississippi/Alabama. For triple-bubble F/A-18C/Ds, up to 8 aircraft drags are possible. Double-bubble F/A-18C/D's, up to 6 aircraft. AV-8B Harriers will typically require a rendezvous point sooner. In this case, either the AR310 or a co-location Yuma departure will be used. The following routes work well for Yuma to Beaufort:

YUM BZA J18 SJN CNX TCC202038 AR13 SPS054031 ADM SQS MCN NBC (Beaufort)

YUM BZA J2 ELP INK189028 AR104 ACT322023 EMG JAN MCN NBC

YUM BZA J18 SJN CNX TCC202038 AR13 SPS054031 LIT MSL ODF FLO NKT (Cherry Point)

YUM BZA J2 ELP INK189028 AR104 ACT 322023 EIC VUZ FLO NKT

MCAS Beaufort-MCAS Yuma:  Omega will typically base from either Lake Charles, LA  and use the AR302, dragging between 4-5 F/A-18C/D's.  Available offload is 85-90k, depending on the headwinds.  The track starts just north of Biloxi at the SJI TACAN and offers the most available offload and the shortest flight time.  It is farther from Beaufort (about 410 NM) The separation point is near El Paso, TX.  An alternate option is to base from Columbus, OH and use the AR 633B.  Available offload is 75-80k, depending on the headwinds.  The track is near Knoxville and an anchor track.  It is closer to Beaufort, but it will add 40-45 minutes to total flight time and reduce the offload available.  The separation point is in eastern New Mexico or west Texas about 500-600 NM  from Yuma, between Borger and Anton Chico.  Winds are the biggest factor in westbound drags and can limit the offload available.   The following are sample routes:

AR302W: NBC SAV PZD SJI SJI274100 AR302 AEX ACT INK ELP J2 BZA YUM

AR633B: NBC IRQ HMV278072 AR633B HMV260117 BNA ARG IFI ACH SJN J18 BZA YUM

MCAS Beaufort-NAS Fallon: Omega will typically stage from either St. Louis or Huntsville and meet the receivers on the AR111W. Available offload is 85-90k, with Omega landing in Colorado.

NBC IRQ BNA017051 AR111 ARG274059 ICT LAA HBU (end AR) HVE NFL

MCAS Cherry Point-MCAS Yuma:  There are 3 primary options to use: AR302W, AR633B, or the AR111W. Omega will typically base from either Lake Charles, LA  or Eglin AFB and use the AR302.  Available offload is 85-90k, depending on the headwinds.  The track starts just north of Biloxi at the SJI TACAN and offers the most available offload and the shortest flight time.  It is farther from Cherry Point. The separation point is near El Paso, TX.  An alternate option is to base from Columbus, OH and use the AR 633B.  Available offload is 75-80k, depending on the headwinds.  The track is near Knoxville and an anchor track.  It is closer to Cherry Point, but it will add 40-45 minutes to total flight time and reduce the offload available.  The separation point is in eastern New Mexico or west Texas about 500-600 NM  from Yuma, between Borger and Anton Chico.  Winds are the biggest factor in westbound drags and can limit the offload available.  Yet another option is to use the AR111W, with the Omega tanker basing from St. Louis. The following is a route used successfully to avoid a strong jet stream:

AR302W: KNKT NCA FLO MCN SJI ar302 SJI 274100 BTR 336042 AEX ACT INK EWM SSO GBN BZA KYUM

AR633B: As filed to AR633B...HCH073005 HCH073076 AR633 HCH073026 BNA ARG IFI ACH SJN J18 BZA YUM

NAS Whidbey Island-NAS Oceana: Omega will base from Moses Lake, WA or Fairchild AFB and use the AR10SE.  Average offload is 80-85k. This common drag is typically flown by an entire Prowler squadron. Here is a sample route:  

NUW GEG150065 AR10 BIL204062 RAP SUX PIA VHP HNN FAK NTU

The flight separation point is PIA and is about 2+45 from rendezvous.  Omega typically lands in Mid-America, IL.  A/A TACAN for the joinup is 114Y (Omega) 51Y (receivers).  Frequencies of either squadron tactical (best) or the AR track - 366.3/292.6.

W-72/NAS Oceana-NAS Whidbey Island: If dragging 4 aircraft or the aircraft carrier is several hundred miles off the coast of Virginia, Omega will base from Columbus, OH and use the AR219, or AR315 (depending upon which is closer to the carrier location), or the AR111W/AR110W from Scott AFB, IL, with an available offload of 80-85k. If less than 4 aircraft and/or the aircraft carrier is close to Virginia, Omega can base from NAS Oceana, meet the aircraft  at KNOTS or overhead and proceed on route with an offload of 75-80k.  The separation point will be east of BIL.  For 4 aircraft EA-6B drags, it is VERY helpful to arrange for a pre-mission top-off organically from the air wing before departing the warning area and heading west. The track to use is then the AR16. It is even better to arrange for the organic tanker to drag west into Virginia and receive about 5k for each Prowler.  This will ensure that there will be plenty of offload for the flight to Whidbey Island. In case of launch delays, it also allows both the aircraft already airborne to remain nearly full and allows the Omega tanker to stage as far west as possible which allows for more offload.  The following are sample routes:

AR111W: As filed to...BNA017051 AR111 ARG274059 BUM LBF CZI (End AR)... as filed to KNUW

AR 110W: As filed to...ENL075008 AR110 SGF256070 SLN LBF CZI (End AR)... as filed to KNUW

AR219W: KNOTS NTU HPW MRB EWC104089 AR219 FWA091065 FWA JOT MCW DPR BIL HNL GEG NUW

AR315W: KNOTS NTU FKN LOZ085100 AR315 PXV IRK ONL RAP BIL HNL GEG NUW

AR16W: W122 KNOTS FKN PSK FLM TTH IRK059/084 (AR16) LBF CZI HLN SKA DARIN NUW

NAS Oceana- NAS North Island: Omega will base from Mid America, IL and use the AR111W.  Typical separation point is in New Mexico/Arizona, with Omega landing in either Phoenix or Albuquerque. Offload is about 85k. The following are good routes:

KNTU WAIKS PSK BNA017051 AR111 ARG274059 RZC GAG CIM (end AR) J96 PKE TRM JLI NZY KNZY

KNTU WAIKS PSK BNA017051 AR111 ARG274059 TUL TCC ACH (end AR) SJN J18 MZB NZY KNZY

NAS North Island/W-291/MCAS Miramar- NAS Oceana: Omega will base from either Yuma or Phoenix. Typical join-up areas are in the Yuma Range to include the Turtle MOA (AR649) or Quail MOA. It is preferred to join up as far east as possible. If able to join up in central Arizona, the AR658 is preferred. Typical separation point is near Peoria, IL, with the tanker landing in St. Louis. Offload 80-85k.

AR649: As filed to...EED226047 EED138027 AR649 EED109023 EED GUP CIM ICT ENL (end AR)... as filed to KNTU

AR658: As filed to...DRK064055 FLG038073 TBE SZL STL (end AR)...as filed to KNTU

Wright Pat AFB- NAS Whidbey Island: This is a good option if the jet stream is extremely strong or if the carrier fly-off is a late afternoon launch and daylight constraints prohibit making it all the way to the west coast.  Ground support is quite good, and a squadron can be refueled in only 2-2.5 hours.  Omega will also launch from here.  Omega will usually take off first, followed by the 4 Prowlers.  Flight breakup is just east of Billings (LVM), and Omega can offload near 90k and land in Billings.  A route used recently is below.

KFFO DQN VHP PIA SUX RAP LVM (end AR) BIL HNL GEG NUW

W-157A- NAS Whidbey Island: This is a good option if the cyclic operations limitations prevent Omega from repositioning west for a drag. Omega will launch from Cecil Field, FL and land in Billings or Colorado Springs.  Separation point is near Goodland (GLD), about 1050 NM from Whidbey Island. The Air Refueling can be extended westward if fewer than 4 Prowlers are in the flight, or if 1 of the jets plans to separate from the flight without going all the way. Offload is 80k or a bit more if winds are favorable.  A route used successfully is below.

W157A 3Y to SAV RMG ARG HYS GLD... then as filed to NAS Whidbey Island

NAS Oceana/MCAS Beaufort- NAS Fallon: Omega will base from Mid America, IL and use the AR111W or an alternate location of Columbus, OH and use the AR315W.  Typical separation point is in central Colorado, with Omega landing in Colorado Springs. Offload is about 85k. The following are good routes:

AR111W: NTU FKN PSK BNA017051 AR111 ARG274059 ICT LAA HBU HVE NFL

AR111W: NBC IRQ BNA017051 AR111 ARG274059 ICT LAA HBU HVE NFL

AR315W: NTU FKN PSK LOZ085100 AR315 PXV BUM GLD DBL DTA NFL

AR315W: NBC CAE LOZ085100 AR315 PXV BUM GLD DBL DTA NFL

NAS Lemoore- NAS Key West: Omega will base from Amarillo, Las Vegas, Yuma, or other southwestern airports and land in Northwest Arkansas or NAS Meridian.  Plan to use the AR310.  Two route options exist: One over the Gulf, or the other staying near the Florida Panhandle. Offload is 80k.  6 single-bubble F-18F's easily made it all the way. The following are good routes from the AR track to the separation point:

Across the Gulf, AR310 SJN346012 LBB ACT LCH LEV...then as filed to Key West

or over Seminole, AR310 SJN346012 TXO BYP JAN... then as filed to Key West

U.S. Mainland (NAS Point Mugu)-Hawaii: A planning offload for a flight from Pt Mugu to Hawaii at FL280 with a 50 knot headwind is 57K, with no headwind it is 63K (50 knots of wind adds about 30 minutes).  This is for a formation departure from Pt Mugu.  Any rendezvous delay or change from a direct route will reduce the offload.

Hawaii-U.S. Mainland: For a flight from Honolulu to Pt Mugu at FL270 with no tailwind, available offload is 60K, with a 50 knot tailwind it is 66K. This is for a formation departure from Honolulu.  Any rendezvous delay or change from a direct route will reduce the offload.  Because of the one way routes between Hawaii and the west coast, the routing is a little longer eastbound going to Pt Mugu.

Oceanic cross-countries (Atlantic/Pacific): Typically involve no more than a section.  Due to the length of the journey, Omega will normally launch with the receivers in order to carry a small maintenance detachment and some spare parts. In drags to/from Europe, an en-route stop is made in Goose Bay, Canada.  Stops in the United Kingdom are usually made in Prestwick, Scotland.  Pacific drags usually involve stops in Hawaii and Wake Island.

Keys to success:

    -Administrative preparation- Air refueling track scheduling and diplomatic paperwork completed in a timely manner.  Omega flight plan and receiver flight plan must match after the join-up.

    -Flight execution- On time departure, fuel management, early communication with tanker, knowledge of track procedures, and an expedient rendezvous. Proper transit speeds given available offload/distance.

    -Communication- Maintain phone contact with tanker to ensure late notices slides/changes due to weather or maintenance are passed and the tanker does not launch.

 

STANDARD ORBIT MISSION PLANNING INFORMATION

Offload capability:  The following figures are for general offload capability planning.  Depending on how fast the fuel is taken, total offload available can increase.

    - 4 hours on-station with up to a 150 nm transit to station: 70K-75k offload

    - 3 hours on-station with up to a 150 nm transit to station: 80k-85k offload

    - Decrease offload by roughly 10-12k for each additional hour on-station or 5k for each 100 nm 1-way transit

    - With shorter onstation times, offloads over 90k are possible, but the time that the fuel is offloaded plays a big part into determining how much fuel above 90k is available.  Fore a detailed explanation of this, go to the FAQ's section and read about the fuel system.  As a general rule, the more fuel taken initially will increase the total offload capability.  Omega has given up to 99k.

Offload capability 'By the Numbers': Typical Mission Fuel Load: 160k. Fuel Burn: 15k the 1st hour, 13k each of the next 3 hours, and 12k each hour after that. Typical planned landing fuel in good weather is 15k, while in poor weather it increases to 20-25k. 

Offload rate: Up to 450 Gallons per minute (3000 lbs./min). Typically between 200-400 Gallons per minute (1350-2700 lbs./min).  Offload rate is not determined by Omega.  The refueling pump is either on or off.  The rate is based on the tank pressure differential between the tanker and the receiver.   The closer to a full fuel load the receiver is, the slower that fuel will be offloaded.   The more fuel required by the receiver, the faster the rate.  The rate is also affected by where the fuel is flowing to in the receiver.  If  external tanks what needs to be filled, especially on the F-18E/F, the rate is much slower than if filling the main internal tanks.

Turnaround time: As a general rule, assuming a 150 nm transit, time required from off-station from one mission until on-station for the next mission: 3 hours. At select airfields, such as Cecil Field, FL, and Honolulu, HI, can Omega can reduce turnaround time to less than 2 hours!

    -For example: Mission #1: Launch 0830, On-station 0900, Off-station 1200, Land 1230.  Mission #2: Launch 1430, On-station 1500, Off-station 1900, Land 1930

Refueling speeds: 250-260 KIAS.  For S-3B's, Omega will slow to 220 KIAS.

Common operating locations:  For West Coast exercises, Omega typically flies from NAS Point Mugu.  Other airfields used include MCAS Mirimar and Yuma Int'l Airport.  For East Coast exercises, Omega typically operates from either NAS Oceana or Cecil Field, FL, depending on the location of the orbit.  On many occasions, Omega will base from one location, yet do a quick turn 'gas and go' from another location if the situation warrants.

Crew duty day: Omega Operations normally uses a 16 hour day as maximum and then 12 hours rest, but also will use a 14 hour day and 10 hour rest to plan successive 24 hour cycles. As always, Omega has some flexibility to do what is required for specific missions and will adjust the times as much as possible to safely accomplish the mission. If required Omega will operate with augmented crews for successive long days.

 

If you did not find the information you are looking for, try the FAQ's page, or contact Omega.

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