Saturday, July 20, 2013

Face of Defense: Quality Surveillance Techs Safeguard Fuel, Oxygen

By Air Force Senior Airman Bahja J. Jones
379th Air Expeditionary Wing

SOUTHWEST ASIA, July 19, 2013 – Aircrew members depend on several moving parts to ensure an aircraft is properly maintained and prepped for a safe mission. A part of this preparation is ensuring that the fuel and oxygen within the aircraft are safe and free of contaminates that could negatively affect the mission.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Thomas Capaldo inserts test tubes into a device that conducts a sulfur analysis on fuels at the 379th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron Air Force Petroleum Laboratory in Southwest Asia, June 12, 2013. The test is one of 15 conducted to ensure the quality of fuels used on aircraft throughout the area of responsibility. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Bahja J. Jones

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Airmen at the 379th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron Air Force Petroleum Agency laboratory, or ELRS/AFPA, have a critical mission analyzing aircraft fuel and oxygen samples in support of U.S. Central Command missions.

"Our lab is a world-class facility containing more than $750,000 in equipment, and has the capability to detect trace amounts of contaminates in fuel and oxygen samples," said Air Force Maj. Joshua Kittle, the 379th ELRS/AFPA chief, deployed from Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M.

Fuels-lab airmen conduct tests to ensure the fuel and oxygen is clean, which helps flight crews breathe easier. Once the lab obtains the samples, they run a series of tests to check for signs of contamination. For fuels, they run a total of 15 different tests, and for gases, up to eight. The tests take several hours to complete.

One test requires running fuels through a Jet Fuel Thermal Oxidation Tester, or JFTOT. The JFTOT is intended to simulate the pressure and temperature environment experienced by the fuel as it circulates through an aircraft.

"If we see pressure build-up, it's a sign of contamination," said Air Force Tech. Sgt. Thomas Capaldo, the 379th ERLS/AFPA noncommissioned officer-in-charge of fuels, deployed from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas.

After the samples are analyzed, any test failures are reported to the AFPA technical division at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, which interprets the results and provides corrective action back to the area of responsibility.

"If we weren't here, it would take weeks to complete mission-critical tasks," said Air Force Tech. Sgt. Rocky Sasse, the 379th ELRS/AFPA noncommissioned officer-in-charge of gases, deployed from McConnell Air Force Base, Kan.

"Each sample we test saves the Air Force time and money," Sasse said.

Without the 379th ELRS aerospace fuels lab, the process to have fuels tested would take up to four weeks, and delay critical missions within the area of responsibility, or AOR.

"Fuel can't be used until the area lab says it's okay to put in the aircraft," Kittle said. "If our lab wasn't in the AOR, it could take weeks for that sample to arrive stateside and get tested. Meanwhile, the aircraft would be burning up the fuel already cleared, resulting in a situation where there is no more cleared fuel."

This is the first all-military rotation in the fuels laboratory as the AFPA is typically staffed by civilians.
"[The] AFPA mission is new to us ... this rotation has presented us with some unique learning challenges," Kittle said. "It's given us a chance to see a different side of the Air Force, and opportunities to bring our experiences to the AFPA mission."

Air National Guard weather specialists provide the climate scoop

by 1st Lt. Brandy Fultz
181st Intelligence Wing

7/19/2013 - ALPENA, Mich. -- "Are we flying? Is the evening softball game still on? Can we golf this weekend?"

Many may not be aware, but the 181st Intelligence Wing has a talented group of Airmen, the 113th Weather Flight, who play a crucial role in predicting the weather and its outcome on the mission, morale and other activities.

During annual field training with the 181st IW in Alpena, Mich., members of the weather flight provided vital forecast information to the Michigan Civil Air Patrol, and intelligence wing members conducting domestic operations, incident awareness and assessment training.

The annual training focused on providing analysis and imagery to civilian first responders in the event of a natural disaster or catastrophe.

"We are providing weather briefings to the pilots as they do their missions, and also we are doing resource protection for the entire base," said Tech. Sgt. Eric Moore, 113th Weather Flight meteorological technician. "We will issue observed watches, warnings, and advisories for lightning, tornadoes, and severe weather that may roll through."

Annual training with the 181st IW provides the weather flight a unique opportunity to work primarily with the Air Force, as they typically work with the Army.

"People may not be aware, but we are primarily an Army support unit on the base, so this training gives us the opportunity to really come out with the Air Force and do some Air Force unique training with the aviation assets we normally would not have with an Army infantry brigade unit," said Moore.

Utilizing highly technical equipment similar to what is typically seen in movies or storm chasing videos, the weather flight has several tools to aid in forecasting weather. The forecaster on duty is able to watch a storm develop, predict where severe weather will hit the ground, and dissect a storm, to include the capability of viewing the storm in 3-D.