AUAB tests, proves new ACE refueling concept
By Staff Sgt. Kylee Gardner, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
/ Published June 16, 2021
AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar --
Recently, members of the 379th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron, in collaboration with U.S. Air Forces Central, demonstrated the ability to convert commercial grade aircraft fuel into fuel ready-to-use for military aircraft at King Abdulaziz International Airport, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. These members were able to do so by bringing back an initiative that was last used in the United States Air Force during the Vietnam War.
“This operation was to test the Air Force’s ability to land in a commercial location, take commercial grade fuel and then convert it into the type of fuel used by U.S. military aircraft for optimal operations,” said Master Sgt. Brandon Geiger, 379th ELRS fuels information service center section chief.
The 379th ELRS is able to do this by using a Fluid Powered Additive Injector Cart. The FPAIC is a piece of equipment that allows Airmen to inject additives into the commercial grade fuel in order to turn it into the type of fuel Air Force military aircraft run off of.
“With this cart, we are able to use fuel, in various austere locations, that isn’t already made for our aircraft by injecting the three essential additives our planes need to fly; a corrosion inhibitor, static dissipater and fuel system icing inhibitor,” said Geiger.
By using this cart, the 379th ELRS enhanced mission essential operations in alignment with the U.S. Air Force’s Agile Combat Employment initiative.
ACE is an operational concept that leverages networks of well-established and more austere locations, and aims to develop Airmen who are proficient in operations outside of their normal day-to-day duties. Processes like this contribute to the evolution of a force of multi-capable Airmen and aircrew, improving mission readiness and increasing capabilities in less than ideal environments.
Along with showcasing their ability to perform this mission, the 379th ELRS team had the opportunity to give an FPAIC demonstration to members of the Royal Saudi Air Force.
According to Geiger, the Airmen were able to use the airport’s commercial mobile refueling truck and hydrant system, and in return they taught the RSAF members how to conduct the fuel conversion.
Within two hours, the 379th ELRS Airmen were able to take commercial grade fuel from a commercial airport and use the FPAIC to turn it into military grade fuel ready to get aircraft off the ground, while teaching their Royal Saudi Air Force counterparts how the operation is done.
The refueling concept validation will also help USAFCENT enhance flexible operations throughout the theater.
“The Hammonds Fluid Powered Additive Injector Cart proof of principle allowed United States Air Forces Central to exercise our partnership with the Royal Saudi Air Force to regrade commercial aviation fuel at King Abdulaziz Airport to specification suitable for military aircraft,” said Lt. Col. Dana Sullivan, AFCENT Logistics Readiness deputy director at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina. “Demonstrating these capabilities to regrade commercial aviation fuel to military grade provides flexibility to expand logistics support and global reach to USAFCENT and our partners from commercial locations throughout the Middle East.”