AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar --
Airmen from the 379th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels lab work around the clock to help aircraft deliver decisive air power in the Air Forces Central Command area of responsibility.
As the largest fuel operation in the Department of Defense, Airmen from the fuels lab must work together to inspect various types of fuel including gasoline, diesel fuel and Jet Propellant-8 to ensure products are free of contaminants.
"Fuels lab members keep the mission going by preventing any major incidents to the aircrew and equipment. Airmen can sleep at night knowing the fuel is clean and within specs,” said Master Sgt. Jesse Franklin, 379th ELRS fuels superintendent. “In 2018, members of the fuels flight at Al Udeid Air Base issued the most fuel in the entire Air Force. Needless to say, the mission here is busy and we get things done."
Tech. Sgt. Steven Jenkins, 379th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels lab NCO in charge, is one member of a two-person team that tests Jet Propellant-8 before it reaches aircraft.
“If you don’t have testing and analysis for the fuel you don’t know what’s going in the truck, and if you don’t know what’s going in the truck you don’t know what’s going in the airplane,” said Jenkins. “You can’t work without a lab. You have to make sure, especially here when you have a long pipeline that you’re testing on a daily basis for contaminants. Without a lab, you can’t have trucks that are clean. Without clean fuel you’re not doing the aircraft justice.”
According to Jenkins, analyzing fuel requires lab technicians to follow a step-by-step process.
“It’s a simple process. It’s all about learning your checklists and following it,” said Jenkins. “We’ll take a visual sample so when we’re looking at it, we can tell if there’s water in there or contaminants. If that visual sample is good to go, you take a gallon of that fuel, bring it back, set it under the safety hood and conduct a ‘bottle method,’ which is basically filtering the fuel and separating particles.”
The number of samples that fuels lab technicians process each deployment rotation measures in the thousands, and directly enables aircraft to perform the day-to-day mission, Franklin said.
“The fuels lab performs over 4.5K samples every six months on all the fuel that supports the mission here at Al Udeid,” he said. “This fuel is the life blood that makes the missions happen each and every day.”
Jenkins, who has been here just over a month, said he knows what he does is valuable to Al Udeid’s mission.
“People say that ‘without fuel, pilots are pedestrians,’” he said. “It’s totally true. This base doesn’t run without fuel and generators. We’re a big part of the mission but there are a lot of other sections here that are critical too. We’re all here - one team, one fight.”