Helicopter refueling units coming to MAFs across 20th

A UH-1N Bell Helicopter from the 37th Helicopter Squadron lands next to a refueling unit at a missile alert facility in the missile complex of F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo. The refueling units will allow helicopter crews to stop at a MAF when they need to refuel. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)

A UH-1N Bell Helicopter from the 37th Helicopter Squadron lands next to a refueling unit at a missile alert facility in the missile complex of F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo. The refueling units will allow helicopter crews to stop at a MAF when they need to refuel. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)

New refueling units were installed at select missile alert facilities in the missile complex of F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo. Each 50 caliber ballistic-coated tank can hold up to 1000 gallons of fuel. The hardened structure also covers a back-up generator. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)

New refueling units were installed at select missile alert facilities in the missile complex of F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo. Each 50 caliber ballistic-coated tank can hold up to 1000 gallons of fuel. The hardened structure also covers a back-up generator. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)

F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. --

The 90th Logistics Readiness Squadron is in the process of placing helicopter refueling units at select missile alert facilities. The units will allow the UH-1N helicopters of the 37th Helicopter Squadron to refuel while out in the missile field.

“The increased refuel options within the missile complex will help mitigate the UH-1N’s range and loiter limitations,” said Col. David Smith, 582nd Helicopter Group commander. “Additional benefits include the security and reliability at MAFs – where we have a secure facility with security forces, communications, chefs, etc. – rather than solely relying on civilian capabilities.”

The idea for refueling units began back when the wing was still under Air Force Space Command, said Tech. Sgt. Bradley Knobloch, 90th LRS fuels contracting officer representative.

“The initial planning and idea process began in 2006, but never came into fruition,” he said. “Air Force Global Strike Command rekindled the ideas in 2013, and now we are set to launch the units very soon.”

For the past three years, AFGSC, the 20th Air Force, and the base have been working together to get the units approved and functioning at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Malmstrom Air Force Base and Minot Air Force Base.

Warren will be the first base to have the units installed and integrated into the mission, with the other wings following suit shortly, Knobloch added.

The preparation of the sites began last June when the refueling units arrived on base. The three sites needed concrete pads built that had the proper power supply and resources available for the units.

“Two sites are in the final phases of installation with the third site close behind,” Knobloch said. “We are looking to have all three ready to start the final certifications.”

Once certification is complete, multiple agencies on base will work together to keep the refueling units functioning properly, he said.

The sections responsible for the unit are the facility managers; the LRS petroleum, oils and logistics section; the fuels core section and the 90th Civil Engineer Squadron.

Facility managers will be responsible for the inspections and operation of the units. The LRS POL section will provide quality control by sampling the fuel and delivering it to sites. The fuels core section will provide the oversight for inspections and ensure proper training is done. The 90th CES will be responsible for fixing the units and replacing any parts that need replacing.

Knobloch is working with AETC-certified instructors to set up classroom and hands-on training courses for the facility managers. Once enough FMs are trained, they will fully certify the sites by performing a refill out at each MAF.