By Bud McKay
Joint Base Lewis-McChord Public Affairs
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – A new $25.1 million airfield refueling facility became operational at the Gray Army Airfield at Joint Base Lewis-McChord following a ceremonial inauguration inauguration on November 17. The new facility can refuel Army helicopters on three, hot-air refueling pads without the helicopters having to stop.
The new hot refueling capability will ultimately save time and increase training missions, according to Col. Derek Smith, commander of the 16th Combat Aviation Brigade.
“And it saves taxpayers money,” he said at the ceremony.
The project, which began October 8, 2019 and ended November 16, was managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers Seattle District. During the ceremony, Col. Phillip Lamb, JBLM Commander thanked the Corps as well as the construction team of Joint Venturer Nisqually Construction and Garco Construction. Lamb also thanked the installation partners who “helped make this project a reality” – JBLM Public Works Branch, 16th CAB and 404th Army Field Support Brigade and 62nd maintenance squadron.
The new refueling facility replaces the site that was under construction when it was destroyed in the Great Nisqually earthquake in 2001, according to Steven Kelley of the Army Corps of Engineers. This installation was never operational.
Following the Army’s decision to station the 16th CAB at JBLM, the Aviation Division with the 16th CAB Stationing Task Force became the proponent of an alternate rapid refueling facility at JBLM Airfield. the gray army. JBLM’s Aviation Division provided requirements, overall design and technical expertise throughout the construction of the project.
“It provides a functional, efficient, cost-effective and safe means of refueling Department of Defense and Army equipment, rotary-wing aircraft assigned to JBLM,” he said. “This includes five brigade combat teams and one aviation brigade.”
Fuel storage units include four 50,000 gallon aviation fuel storage tanks, one 5,000 gallon diesel tank and one 1,000 gallon product recovery tank.
“The on-site diesel system also meets airfield emergency response vehicle refueling requirements,” said Col. John Rotante, 404th AFSB. commander. “All of these capabilities reduce the time vehicles travel and wait for refueling, maximizing the availability of personnel response to further benefit mission-critical functions at JBLM.”
To accompany the new refueling facility, a 1,994 square foot fuel operations center was built with oil operations and a laboratory inside. The lab will be able to perform on-site fuel testing, reducing monthly outsourced fuel testing required by units.