Vehicle Management welds fuel tanks back to life

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Joshua King
  • 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
The 386th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle management flight has been hard at work keeping the refueling vehicle fleet mission ready over the past few months at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia.

Recently, the team began to experience cracks in several of the more than 10 year old trucks resulting in leaks if the trucks had stayed in service. To combat this issue, the vehicle management team sprang into action synergizing the expertise from other units on base and even a contractor from another base to plug the leak.

“Our relationship with the [386th Expeditionary] maintenance group via Non-destructive Inspection (NDI) and combat metals has been amazing,” said Master Sgt. John Futrell, 386th ELRS vehicle management flight superintendent. “They have been more than willing to assist us with whatever we need to get this job done.”

The process begins with draining the tanks and purging them of all fuel so when the welding begins there are no flammables present. Next, a welder was brought in from Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar.

We brought in a welder because nobody here has experience with that type of welding, said Futrell.

After the welding was completed, Staff Sgt. Brittany Long, 386th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron NDI craftsman, used different compounds to ensure there were no cracks in the new weld.

“We start by putting the penetrant on the weld, it seeps in after some time and then we wipe it clean,” said Long. “We then use developer to pull the penetrant back out and are able to identify cracks.”

The NDI process on the fuel tank weld took about 45 minutes and they found no cracks in the weld.

When the refurbishments are completed, the fuels management flight will have 12,000 more gallons of fuel on hand to deliver to aircraft.

“To me, the feeling of knowing that my refueling maintenance team (RFM) has had my back since day one is a great feeling,” said Futrell. “They have devoted numerous hours to make sure the old fleet that is currently in service, continues to be. They understand the difficulty fuels will run in to when they lose an asset so they will do whatever it takes to get them back so we can keep the mission going.”