Refueling RF-A 21-3 one gallon at a time
By Senior Airman Rhonda Smith, 354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published August 25, 2021
EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- RED FLAG-Alaska 21-3 is a realistic combat training exercise that provides air to air and air to ground combat training and is essential to the success of air and space operations. With over 100 aircraft flying per day, the 354th Logistics Readiness Squadron’s fuels flight, also known as petroleum, oil, and lubricants (POL), ensures each one is fueled and ready to fly.
The flight maintains roughly 20 million gallons of fuel that is necessary for the daily operations of Eielson Air Force Base. Ensuring that the fuel is up to Air Force safety standards, the POL Flight has their own laboratory for precautionary testing.
“It’s more than refueling jets, we provide gas basewide for heating and government vehicles,” said Master Sgt. Roxanne Galindo, the 354th LRS POL Flight fuels operations section chief. “Once the fuel has been tested in the lab, it goes to our preventative maintenance section who then ensures our refueling vehicles are safe.”
The POL Flight also maintains a supply of liquid oxygen for pilots which enables them to continue breathing despite pressure changes during flights.
“We ensure the aircraft are properly and safely filled so that they can complete their missions without worrying about fuel or oxygen,” said Staff Sgt. George Turk, a 354th LRS POL Flight fuels distribution supervisor.
During exercises like RF-A 21-3, the unit could potentially fuel over 100 aircraft a day.
“Our weekly fuel intake nearly doubles from 600,000 gallons to over a million during this exercise,” said Turk. “Even though our operations increase, it is still our job to provide high quality fuel that is safe.”
RED FLAG-Alaska 21-3 also provides unique opportunities for fuels Airmen to train on different airframes alongside joint, coalition and multilateral partners from simulated forward operating bases.
POL is an integral component to the success of air and space operations -- how else would the U.S. Air Force and its partners’ aircraft continue to dominate the skies?