News: TF Knighthawk takes lead in aviation expansion at FOB Shank
LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan—Military and civilian engineers completed a four-year project March 10 designed to increase Forward Operating Base Shank’s ability to receive and refuel aircraft.
The project was a coordinated effort between METAG, a Turkish contractor; the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Army 10th Mountain Division, and included a new runway capable of receiving fully loaded U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III airlift aircraft, a parking ramp and a new forward arming and refuelling point.
According to U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Alan Allosada, a petroleum supply specialist of 1st Brigade, 171st Aviation Regiment and Wheeler Army Air Field, Hawaii, resident, the new automated aircraft fuelling system was vastly overdue.
“Because it’s automated, mistakes in fuel accountability and accuracy are less likely to occur,” said Allosada. “This system will enhance our spill contingency plan too. The idea is to eliminate the need for manpower so the aircrafts’ [refuelling] time goes down.”
Before the improvements, it would take refuelling specialists one hour to fill one 25,000 gallon fuel bladder. The automated system enables the workers to fill two bladders simultaneously in 30 minutes.
The concrete pad will also speed up the refuelling process.
“It’s concrete so the aircraft can taxi in, receive fuel, re-arm and taxi out,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Donnis Greenwood, Enterprise, Ala., a petroleum supply specialist with TF Knighthawk. “The pipeline is underground. It has sheltered ports like a drive-through. Hand valves are at each point; the pumps and hoses are boxed to protect them from the elements, and the electric shut off valve is a huge safety feature.”
Greenwood served as one of many subject matter experts who tested the system prior to certification. He worked closely with civilian and METAG contractors to ensure the FARP met aviation standards.
As Greenwood watched the first AH-64 Apache helicopter refuel at the new FARP, he acknowledged the reality that there will likely be future projects to make operations run more efficiently.