June 01, 2006

New fuels system saving Air Force time, money

by Staff Sgt. Ryan Hansen
386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

5/31/2006 - SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFPN) -- Airmen here are refueling aircraft faster than ever before and doing it with fewer people, thanks to the next generation of fuels mobility support equipment.

The new system is called Fuels Operational Readiness Capability Equipment, or FORCE. This equipment is making life easier for Airmen and saving the Air Force time and money across the board.

“FORCE will become the standard in the (area of responsibility),” said Master Sgt. Stacy Baker, fuels management flight superintendent for the 386th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron. “It’s really making a big difference for us.”

The fuels management flight provides all refueling support for the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing, the Japanese Self Defense Force and the South Korean air force stationed here. They also supply all ground fuel support for the base.

“The ops tempo here is relatively high,” Sergeant Baker said, “so we’re glad to have the new system.”

FORCE has helped the flight cut aircraft refueling time by almost half. With the old system it took a four-person team, with four pieces of equipment, around 42 minutes to refill a C-17 Globemaster III.

“With FORCE, we can do it with two people and two pieces of equipment in 24 minutes,” said Sergeant Baker, who is deployed from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. “The C-17 crews absolutely love it.”

The new system also lets the team refill two of their fuel trucks simultaneously. Before FORCE they could only do one at a time.

“After we empty a 6,000-gallon refueler, I can go out to the FORCE equipment, fill it back up and be out at the next aircraft in 30 minutes,” said Tech. Sgt. Gregory Goode Sr., NCO in charge of FORCE, who is deployed from Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. “With the old system it would take us about 45 to 60 minutes, so we’re saving almost 30 minutes.”

FORCE also helps the flight when they refill fuel bladders.

“With FORCE we can receive fuel at about 600 to 700 gallons per minute,” Sergeant Goode said. “That’s very much faster than it used to be. The old equipment would maybe hit 400 gallons per minute, so we’re almost double that.”

The new equipment can be compared to equipment that troops use back home. It pumps similar amounts of fuel at similar rates of capacity. However, FORCE is mobile.

“With FORCE, we have more flexibility,” Sergeant Baker said. “If the flightline layout were to change or the operations tempo increased and we needed to adjust, we can move it to meet the need.”

The equipment first arrived in the area in late 2005; during the two subsequent rotations it was tested by the fuels management flight. With the arrival of the latest rotation, FORCE’s testing is now complete. The 25 Airmen of the flight are all glad to have FORCE on board.

“The new system pumps a lot faster, gets the aircraft off quicker and keeps the fuel trucks rolling faster,” said Senior Airman Zak Lancaster, FORCE operator, who is deployed from Spangdahlem AB. “It’s really a great system.”

In addition to the advantages FORCE brings to the current rotation, its effects may be felt by Airmen even further down the line. With its increased capability, the number of deployed members to the unit should decrease.

“Our biggest savings is going to be with manpower positions,” Sergeant Baker said. “Obviously that has to be worked out ... but because of FORCE we’ll eventually be able to cut the numbers of people deploying here.”

Currently this is the only FORCE system in use anywhere in the world. But plans are in the works to build another one for Airmen at the fuels technical school at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas.

“I really think it’s going to be a great system for us,” Sergeant Goode said.

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