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.”