Air Force officials officially began
to test a 50-50 mixture of synthetic and JP-8 fuels in a Type 3
constant-pressure fuel hydrant system at Sheppard Air Force Base,
Fuel tankers, including five trucks with 100 percent synthetic
fuel and three with the 50-50 blend, arrived at the base May 17 to
unload 113,000 gallons of fuel.
The Type 3 system is a constant-pressure fuel structure that, as
the name suggests, provides a constant fuel pressure through the
pumps, lines, truck, aircraft and back to the pumps. This is
particularly advantageous at operational locations where time is a
factor. With this system, multiple aircraft can be refueled without
a reduction in performance of the pumps.
In older systems, the pressure would degrade if multiple
aircraft were being refueled. The purpose of the test is to
determine the long-term effects of the blended fuel in a system.
During testing, the hydrant system will be regularly monitored to
determine whether or not any detrimental effects or other
abnormalities occur over the extended period of time. Tech. Sgt.
Randy Davidson, the Air Force Petroleum Agency Logistics Education
Advancement Program noncommissioned officer, said he will conduct
monthly tests between now and the end of the survey.
Sergeant Davidson said they have specific parameters for the
fuel and that there have been no indications in previous tests that
they will experience any issues during this test.
"This is a long-term durability test to see if the system can
handle the 50-50 blend," he said. "We hope we get the same
consistent levels." Ray Bunch, an Air Force Petroleum Agency
quality assurance inspector, said Sheppard AFB was a natural fit to
test the hydrants because the fuel specialists there don't
interrupt the day-to-day flow of an operational base.
"The reason we picked Sheppard is this is a training system," he
said. "We can keep the fuel isolated." The tests will last until
about October or November. The six-month test period is too long to
shut down a fuel yard, said Master Sgt. Jefferson Guillory III, the
"No one wants to give up their Type 3 system on the active
side," he said. "Here we have a closed system that's specific for
training. It doesn't leave here." The process to begin this round
of tests began May 13, Mr. Bunch said, when the entire system was
"de-fueled" of JP-8 and cleaned in preparation for acceptance of
the 50-50 blend. Sergeant Davidson said he conducted tests to make
sure the system was ready to receive the new fuel product.
"Once we got our baseline and saw the levels were good, then we
started off-loading from trucks," he said. Once the fuel was in the
tanks, the blending process began by "spinning" the tank, or
running 1,200 gallons per minute through the system.
Mr. Bunch said Air Force officials began 50-50 blend tests in
2006 at Tinker AFB, Okla. So far, officials have certified the B-52
Stratofortress, C-17 Globemaster III, B-1 Lancer and F-15 Eagle for
non-combat operations. The F-15 should receive full certification
soon, while the KC-135 Stratotanker and KC-10 Extender, the
service's air refueling aircraft, are pending certification.
Air Force officials hope to be ready to deploy the 50-50 blend
to all airframes within the next couple years, making these tests
critical for the certification of Type 3 hydrants.
"Once we reach 2011 and we say the aircraft are ready to go and
we're going to put it in the systems, we want to make sure there
aren't any issues," Mr. Bunch said. [ANN Salutes John Ingle, 82nd
Training Wing Public Affairs]