News | May 4, 2021

$35-million fuel hydrant system comes online

By Douglas Hays 434th Public Affairs

Fueling the fight got a little easier recently as Grissom brought a new $35-million fuel hydrant system on-line.

The Type-III Hydrant Fuel System, replaces the outdated Type-II system and offers increased capabilities and additional security.

The previous system had been in place since the 1950s and was a world away from the high-tech digital based platform the new system sports.

“In the old days you’d pull a magnet to open/close fuel flow,” said Matthew Snyder, fuels manager. Snyder and other fuels technicians now monitor the system via monitors that keep tabs on multiple pumps, valves, pressures and connections.

With a flow capacity of 600 gallons-per-minute, the new system can fuel four aircraft all in the same parking row, and the system is designed to kick on pumps automatically to maintain the required pressure.

Getting the new system on line was a no easy task.

“This was one of the largest single projects we’ve had at Grissom,” said Maj. Sam Pier, 434th Air Refueling Wing executive officer, and former project engineer.

The ground broke on the project in 2015, but the design began back in 2012. The ups and downs of the project were a true testament to Grissom’s oversight staying on top of things and holding contractors accountable, Pier said.

“The vetted and agreed requirements of the contract were completed” he said. “We met routinely and exhaustively to ensure the contractors were abiding by the letter of the contract, and while it took longer than expected the end result is a great fuel system.”

While the project took place at Grissom, it was a Defense Logistics Agency project which means they were paying for it and would turn it over to Grissom once completed.

Grissom’s role was to ensure construction compliance and safety standards.

Environmentally the Air Force moved forward by removing aged underground storage tanks.

“Anytime you replace a system older than fifty years with something new it can’t help but be better,” said Cory Walters, environmental flight chief. “The new system has fifty years’ worth of lessons learned and advancements built into it.”

The new system will minimize the amount of fuel trucked and the distance it is trucked, eliminating the potential for spills.

Fuel is offloaded by delivery tankers to the base and never have to come on the main installation.

“The delivery guys love this,” Snyder said. “They can come offload their trucks quickly and return quickly to bring another load if need be.”

Those working on the ramp love it too.

“It’s more efficient, faster and we can do more aircraft at the same time,” Snyder said. “We can refuel one aircraft and defuel another at the same time!”

The fuels team are not the only ones benefiting from the new system as delivery trucks no longer needing to come on base and fuel vehicles driving to parking ramps to load the aircraft.

“Facilitating off-load of commercial tanker trucks from outside the installation’s perimeter has obvious security benefits,” said Lt. Col. Matt Garvelink, 434th Security Forces Squadron commander. “Anytime we can create extra stand-off between Grissom assets vehicles with 50,000lbs of jet fuel, it’s a good option.”

Though about nine years from inception to completion, the new system will serve Grissom well into the future.

“While this project took many years to complete, the professionals at Grissom worked diligently to significantly improve our infrastructure,” said Col. Thom Pemberton, 434th Air Refueling Wing commander. “This new hydrant system not only brings increased capabilities for supporting our own aircraft, but also adds enhanced capabilities for transient aircraft thus giving the base even more strategic importance.”

The 434th ARW is the largest KC-135R Stratotanker unit in the Air Force Reserve Command. The Citizen Airmen from the Hoosier Wing routinely deploy around the world in support of the Air Force mission.


Editor's note: The original story can be viewed on the Grissom Air Reserve Base website.