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Sat, Aug 26, 2006

New Aircraft Fuel System Expands Capabilities at Naval Station Rota, Spain

Base Supports C-5 Galaxy Transports

The mission capabilities of US Naval Station Rota in Spain took a quantum leap forward August 14, when 10 state-of-the-art underground refueling hydrants opened for business.

The project, which will feature a total of 16 fuel hydrant pits when fully completed, represents an eight-fold increase in Rota’s aircraft refueling capability.

"Theater wide, this gives Air Mobility Command much more flexibility where they send their aircraft," said station commander Capt. Earl K. Hampton Jr. "During OIF [Operation Iraqi Freedom], we had 30 aircraft passing through Rota daily, but we were limited in how quickly we could turn them around. With the system at capacity, we'll have much greater throughput to support OIF, or any future contingency."

In addition to increasing en-route refueling capabilities, the new hydrant system saves time, allowing for a much faster turnaround of transiting aircraft.

"Before, we used a fleet of trucks to refuel most aircraft," said Lt. Christin Crowley, Rota's fuels officer. "Between filling the trucks, driving out to the aircraft and re-connecting, it would take four people three hours and about eight trips to refuel one C-5. With the fuel hydrant system, four people can refuel four C-5s in about an hour and a half."

As part of the $42 million project, Rota also received an expanded 16-acre parking apron capable of parking 14 C-5 aircraft, and a "hot cargo" pad capable of parking and refueling two C5 aircraft when loaded with hazardous cargo, such as ammunition. Underground fuel storage capability also tripled, with the addition of two 1.3 million gallon tanks, and eight new miles of pipeline and enhanced pumps.

The new hydrants are capable of refueling any military or civilian aircraft, though Crowley said it's unlikely it would be used for smaller aircraft, such as the C-12 and some smaller jets.

"Because of the system's high flow rate, it's unlikely we'd ever use it for smaller aircraft," Crowley said. "We'll keep the trucks online, but their use will be primarily for smaller aircraft and as a back-up for the system."

Rota is one of Air Mobility Command's primary C-5 en-route refueling sites, with more than 1,500 C-5 landings last year.

With the fuel hydrants opening, "We anticipate air traffic will increase… whether a little or a lot, that remains to be seen," said Hampton. "Other bases in Europe, such as Ramstein [in Germany] also have huge capabilities, but weather is our advantage. Rota has excellent weather for flying, and we're VFR [Visual Flight Rules] about 95 percent of the time."

Construction on the project began in May 2004, with Air Mobility Command and the Defense Logistics Agency sharing the cost of the project.

(Aero-News salutes Lt. Mike Morley, Naval Station Rota Public Affairs)



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