POL and tankers practice for mission effectiveness

  • Published
  • By TSgt Alexandre Montes
  • 9th Reconnaissance Wing Public Affairs

The day to day mission POL provides is constant, and aircraft cannot fly without them. To stay on top of their game, they participate in exercises alongside their reserve partners at the 940th LRS POL. 

"In the event the 940th Air Refueling Wing is activated to support real-world Operational Plans (OPLAN), this exercise is being used to measure actual KC-135 fueling capability against OPLAN timelines," 1st Lt. Emily Sullivan, 9th LRS/POL fuels flight commander said. 

During the exercise, Airmen are given a short notice task that boils down to grabbing the fuel truck keys, knowing what type of fuel is needed and then gassing up their jets. 

"The 9th LRS wants to ensure the 940th ARW planners are provided with an accurate sight picture for KC-135 fueling operations, so they can better understand our POL capabilities and limitation factors," Master Sgt. Jeremy Britten, 9 LRS POL flight chief said. "As we collaborate to define 940th mission requirements, these exercises will occur on an as-needed basis."

Their interactions with each other are not solely just for exercises. The two teams collaborate to ensure reserve Airmen stay current with their training alongside the fuels management flight.

The opportunities these Airmen get here are unique because of how fuel is delivered to the flight line.

“Here at Beale, 9th LRS/POL is still using a Type II Hydrant Fuel System,” Britten said. “There are very few bases left worldwide with this 63 year old fuel system. In the near future Beale will be upgraded to a Type III Hydrant System that will increase capability.”

This new capability is also tied to the type of fuels used here. Made exclusively for the U-2, the POL Airmen supply the Dragon lady with Jet Propellant Thermally Stable (JPTS) fuel.

According to Britten, JPTS allows for the aircraft to fly at higher altitudes for reconnaissance missions. This fuel type also has more stringent characteristics than other fuel types and requires more testing and care.    

“We have a saying in the Fuels community…without POL, pilots are pedestrians,” Sullivan said. “Our job is to provide clean, dry fuel to base aircraft, government vehicles, and other support equipment.”

The fuels team believes that all Beale mission sets aide in overall Air Force efforts, theirs are important because of their collective efforts alongside their reserve counterparts.

Sullivan said it can be very rewarding to watch a plane take off that you refueled, knowing your efforts helped get the aircraft airborne to complete its mission.