Air Force exercises expeditionary fuel additive injection in Estonia

By Irene Smith DLA Energy Public Affairs

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The U.S. Air Force is successfully converting locally-procured jet fuel to create military-specification fuel needed to power American and NATO jets and ground equipment at Estonia’s Amari Air Base.

For Air Force fuelers this is a routine process and serves as a model for the Defense of Department to maintain the capability to inject additives in fuel to create resiliency in the bulk petroleum supply chain.

“Assisting the Air Force in executing service level responsibilities in Estonia supplying the fuel system icing inhibitor additive increases service members’ ability to additize fuel in a tactical environment,” said Defense Logistics Agency Energy Europe & Africa Commander Army Lt. Col. Dennis Williams.

In a show of NATO cooperation and interoperability, Amari Air Base, Estonia is providing one of the three jet fuel additives used to create the Jet Petroleum 8 fuel used to power the USAF’s F-16 jets, strengthening U.S. and NATO combatant command readiness in Europe.

A NATO member since 2004, Estonia uses NATO-grade JP8 fuel, a grade of aviation jet fuel produced to military specifications that includes several additives such as fuel system icing inhibitor, static dissipater additive and corrosion inhibitor, making it a suitable energy source for most military aircraft and tactical vehicles. 

However, at Estonia’s Amari Air Base, fuel is stored as commercial Jet A1 (JA1) and injects additives prior to use.    

“The flexibility and responsiveness to procure and get fuel to the warfighter is invaluable,” Williams said. “The techniques and expertise required by service members to properly additize fuel is a perishable skill set and needs to be exercised routinely to meet the unique requirements and specifications of military aircraft.”

The DLA Energy Europe & Africa regional office serves as the theater manager for bulk fuel distribution and storage for warfighters serving in the European and African Command area of responsibility, as well as NATO and former Soviet Bloc nations.

The strong fuel partnership between Estonia and Defense Logistics Agency Energy is mutually beneficial and enhances interoperability.

In Estonia and Poland, the JA1 fuel is delivered via truck and additives are comingled as fuel pumping occurs. Airmen on the ground oversee the entire process from the time the additives are comingled with the fuel in the trucks all the way through the time the additized fuel from the trucks reaches the aircraft.

One of the three additives for JA1 is fuel system icing inhibitor, commonly known as FSII.

“FSII is an additive to aviation fuels that prevents the formation of ice in the fuel lines,” said DLA Energy & Africa Quality Manager Lanny Collums. “It keeps the water in fuel lines from freezing and seizing the engine.”

Sourcing military specification fuel in an expeditionary environment on short notice can be challenging and the importance of safe fuel cannot be understated.

“A million gallons of Jet A requires nearly 1,000 gallons of FSII to create JP8,” Collums said. “FSII is a hazardous material and the shipping and moving is challenging. For Estonia to supply the FSII, it frees up the warfighter and we don’t have to spend the money to transport or store the fuel.”

The host nation partnership is leading to closer relations with the U.S.

“Both Estonia and its Baltic neighbor, Latvia, have requested a meeting to begin discussions on establishing Fuel Exchange Agreements,” Williams said.

DLA Energy Europe & Africa is coordinating a meeting with each country. U.S. European Command has granted DLA Energy the authority to negotiate the FEAs as Implementing Arrangements under the Acquisition and Cross Servicing Authority Agreement authority. 

“Once concluded, these FEAs will significantly increase our options in support of emerging USEUCOM fuel requirements in Eastern Europe and will serve as the first fuel agreements established with these partners,” Williams said.