Military News

Friday, June 26, 2015

POL keeps planes in the air during Exercise Northern Edge

by Chief Petty Officer Larry Foos
NE15 Joint Information Bureau Public Affairs

6/26/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska  -- Over the course of the two-week-long exercise, known as Northern Edge 15 participants practiced tactics, techniques and procedures in vast Alaskan training ranges. The designated areas include a 42,000 square nautical miles in the Gulf of Alaska, 65,000 square miles of airspace and nearly 2,500 square miles of land space known as the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex.

The planned high operational tempo of Exercise Northern Edge and the influx of manpower and machinery created several logistical hurdles. Critical to these missions is the accurate allocation and timely delivery of fuels.

The 673rd Logistics Readiness Squadron (LRS) at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER) have stepped up to the pump to deliver an average of 360,000 gallons of fuel to Exercise Northern Edge participants and home station units every day.

Keeping these state-of-the-art fighters, air transports and support vehicles operational is a complex and well-orchestrated logistical dance of planning, maintenance and manpower. A fleet of R-11 Refuelers, each boasting a 6,000 gallon capacity are dispatched and able to dispense up to 600-gallons a minute into awaiting aircraft.

"Prior to the start of Northern Edge, 18 R-11 Refuelers serviced an average of 50 aircraft a day, dispensing as much as 150,000 gallons of fuel," said Senior Master Sgt. Ronald Crowl, 673rd LRS. "In anticipation of the influx of aircrafts, two R-11 Refuelers and seven crew members were added to assist with the demands of the exercise."

Transports and fighter aircraft filled with personnel and equipment landed at Alaskan bases just days before the start of Northern Edge 15, each staking claim to sections of flightline. In all, 36 units from across the Asia-Pacific theater and the lower 48 set up a temporary homes in hangars spanning the four corners of the airfield.

"Since the start of the exercise we have had a sound line of communication between the Fuels Service Center and the air wings, allowing us to best coordinate deliveries," said Crowl. "We were prepared to be overwhelmed and with an addition of a fourth shift to create an overlap of drivers, I'd say we are performing like a well-oiled machine."

The professionalism and innovations demonstrated by the 673rd LRS Fuels Management Flight was recently recognized by the American Petroleum Institute (API) with an award as the best in the Air Force for 2014."We are very proud of the hard work we do and the innovations we have instituted to better our operations," said Tech. Sgt. Ronald Aragon, 673rd LRS.

Over a hundred launch and recoveries are performed daily during the exercise where advanced aircraft like the Navy's F-18 Super Hornet and the Air Force's F-22 Raptor provide refueling crews different challenges and communication strategies between the services.

"This exercise has been a great opportunity to learn about the difference and similarities of each platform," said Airman 1st Class Sengchanh Seuam, 673rdLRS - Petroleum, Oils and Liquids - Fuel Distribution operator.

The sharing of information will be invaluable when working in a joint environment.

Northern Edge is one in a series of U.S. Pacific Command exercises in 2015 that prepares joint forces to respond to crisis in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. 6,000 service members and approximately 200 aircraft from every branch of the military have descended on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska.

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