RAF MILDENHALL, England –
People far and wide have seen fighter jets zipping in the skies, most recently F-18 Hornets, F-22 Raptors, and F-15 Eagles. Impressive as these aircraft may be, getting off the ground to perform training and real world missions wouldn’t be possible without RAF Mildenhall’s critical air refueling “bridge,” that allows aircraft, whether it be U.S. military or NATO allies, to deploy at a moment’s notice.
Getting fuel on board RAF Mildenhall’s KC-135 Stratotanker and transient aircraft is down to the 100th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels facilities shop.
They maintain five facilities across base, constantly making sure all fuel systems are working sufficiently, which is done on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis depending on what’s being inspected. The Airmen make sure that fuel is clean and removed of any contamination.
“We pressurize the system on the plane and run fuel through it every day,” said Tech. Sgt. Jassen Manrrique, 100th LRS Fuels Facilities NCO-in-charge. “We then check the filtration equipment for any kind of sediment or water to make sure fuel is good enough to go out to the aircraft.”
They make sure aircraft are fueled and government vehicles obtain the gas they need and they also maintain liquid oxygen, which is vital for aircrew when flying at high altitudes.
Liquid oxygen, also known as LOX, is vital to mission success, allowing aircrew’s breathable oxygen at high altitudes.
“We maintain two 6,000-gallon tanks and four 50-gallon carts. We issue the LOX into the carts where we maintain 99.9 percent purity. Once we fill the carts, they’re given to the 100th Maintenance Squadron Aerospace Ground Equipment shop to ensure it is issued to the aircraft,” said Senior Airman Kameron Ware, 100th LRS Fuels Facilities operator.
Liquid oxygen is -297 degrees Fahrenheit and is combustible when in contact with oil or fuel. Liquid Oxygen can also cause major burns when exposed to skin, so the use of extensive personal protective equipment is required.
By providing fuels services 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the 100th LRS Fuels Facilities Airmen provide mission-ready aircraft across Europe and beyond.
Editor's note: The original story can be viewed on the Royal Air Force Mildenhall website.