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9th LRS refines expeditionary fueling system for U-2 Dragon Lady

9th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Immediate Response Force (IRF) team member, unscrews a panel on a U-2 Dragon Lady to check the fuel during an exercise July 9, 2021, at Beale Air Force Base, California.

9th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Immediate Response Force (IRF) team member, unscrews a panel on a U-2 Dragon Lady to check the fuel during an exercise July 9, 2021, at Beale Air Force Base, California. The exercise tested the Tactical Aviation Ground Refueling System, a new expeditionary system to rapidly refuel the U-2. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Juliana Londono)

9th LRS refines expeditionary fueling system for U-2 Dragon Lady.

Airman 1st Class Corbin Ney, left, and Staff Sgt. Peter John Mandadero, right, 9th Logistics Readiness Squadron Immediate Response Force team members, carry fuel hoses down the flightline during an exercise July 9, 2021, at Beale Air Force Base, California. This exercise served to test the new expeditionary refueling system at Beale. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Juliana Londono)

Staff Sgt. Peter John Mandadero, 9th Logistics Readiness Squadron Immediate Response Force team member, prepares fuel hoses for a U-2 Dragon Lady during an exercise to test out the Tactical Aviation Ground Refueling System, July  9, 2021, at Beale Air Force Base, California.

Staff Sgt. Peter John Mandadero, 9th Logistics Readiness Squadron Immediate Response Force team member, prepares fuel hoses for a U-2 Dragon Lady during an exercise to test out the Tactical Aviation Ground Refueling System, July 9, 2021, at Beale Air Force Base, California. The new system being tested proved highly effective by taking less than 14 minutes to set up. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Juliana Londono)

9th Logistics Readiness Squadron Immediate Response Force team members prepare to test the Tactical Aviation Ground Refueling System (TAGRS) during an exercise, July 9, 2021, at Beale Air Force Base, California.

9th Logistics Readiness Squadron Immediate Response Force team members prepare to test the Tactical Aviation Ground Refueling System (TAGRS) during an exercise, July 9, 2021, at Beale Air Force Base, California. With the TAGRS, fueling the U-2 while deployed will be more rapid as the team will not have to depend on fuel trucks to supply the fuel. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Juliana Londono)

Tech. Sgt. Marshall Spooner, 9th Logistics Readiness Squadron, Fuels Flight NCOIC of transport and mobility, drives a forklift carrying fuel and instructs other team members on procedures during an exercise July 9, 2021, at Beale Air Force Base, California.

Tech. Sgt. Marshall Spooner, 9th Logistics Readiness Squadron, Fuels Flight NCOIC of transport and mobility, drives a forklift carrying fuel and instructs other team members on procedures during an exercise July 9, 2021, at Beale Air Force Base, California. This lift was carrying about 1,000 gallons of fuel. Having these fuel bags allow them to take the fuel with them on deployments, which will allow for rapid refueling in these areas.(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Juliana

BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --

The 9th Logistics Readiness Squadron is implementing a new expeditionary fueling system as part of the Immediate Response Force (IRF). This system will improve the U-2 Dragon Lady’s rapid deployment capability and allow for immediate refueling in expeditionary environments.

“LRS is the only sortie generating squadron on base that has one key word in it; readiness,” said Maj. Blake Johnson, 9th LRS commander. “Our main job is to manage all of the wing’s deployment commitments.”

One of these aspects involves managing the fuel for the U-2, which is where the new expeditionary fuel system, the Tactical Aviation Ground Refueling System (TAGRS) comes in as part of IRF. The TAGRS is a pump that pulls fuel out of a 500-gallon bladder rather than having to depend on fuel trucks in deployment areas.

“Our old methods of deploying where we are constantly rotating forces to the same place year after year is predictable,” said 2nd Lt. Jeremy Fagan, 9th LRS fuels flight commander. “So IRF is meant to challenge decision making and ensure that the U-2, and the Air Force in general, can deploy to any location.''

The TAGRS is based on an old expeditionary concept going back to WWII, however what is new is that it is being used for JPTS fuel. The U-2 uses Jet Propellant Thermally Stable (JPTS), a highly specialized fuel that is not readily available at airports worldwide, which is why this specialized concept, IRF, is so crucial.

On July 9, 2021, an exercise was held that served as a proof of concept to test the TAGRS. This exercise, which proved highly effective for the 9th LRS, was held to ensure that here on Beale there are expeditionary fuel capabilities.

“This system is designed for a logistically immature environment in which we can bring in the fuel ourselves, bring the pumping systems ourselves and be completely self-sufficient,” Fagan said.

This test has proven that the IRF is well on its way to being operational.

“We will be able to send a U-2 anywhere a combatant commander needs it and long term, at least on the fuels side, we are trying to build flexibility in the ground level so that it can be used in a multitude of ways,” Spooner said.

The 9th LRS plans to make this a rapid-mobilization system, so they can move it to any location quickly. Furthermore, they are planning on building two additional complete systems for deployment, which is expected to be accomplished in the next six months.

“We’ve done what we're tasked to do, and that’s to do more, to do better and to do it faster,” Spooner said. “Through developing new processes, finding new equipment and utilizing the knowledge we have, we’ve come up with an entirely new system to support the mission.”