Australian Army and Royal Australian Air Force personnel fill collapsible fuel drums as part of a defuelling/refuelling trial.
Australian Army and Royal Australian Air Force personnel fill collapsible fuel drums as part of a defuelling/refuelling trial. Corporal Max Bree

Joint services practice fuel change

IF AN Army marches on its stomach, then it would be fair to say an air force flies on its fuel.

But what happens if there is a fuel shortage, or the fuel becomes contaminated?

To practice for just these sorts of scenarios, Amberley recently hosted a joint-service trial, with Army and RAAF personnel emptying the fuel from a C-17 Globemaster into portable bladders, before refuelling the aeroplane.

With virtually every airborne machine in the ADF burning the same type of fuel, being able to empty the fuel from one to refuel another makes good operational sense.

While the initial exercise was only drawing off 200 litres at a time, with a fuel capacity of more than 35,000 litres, a single C-17 could provide sufficient fuel for a fleet of helicopters or other small aircraft.

Often the C-17 is the first RAAF aircraft to land in humanitarian operations, and with its ability to airlift helicopters, could then become a central refuelling point, uintil more fuel is able to be shipped into disaster areas.

Alternatively, if there is a fuel contamination that prevents existing fuel supplies from being used, again, the ability to withdraw large volumes of fuel from cargo aircraft can keep ADF air assets operational until fresh fuel supplies can be sourced.

The trial at Amberley involved Australian Army petroleum operators and Royal Australian Air Force technicians, and proved the trial could work, including preventing any contamination of fuel during the offload and storage process.



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