Logistics: Fast Pit Stops For Helicopters


December 15, 2006: The U.S. Army has, over the last few years, purchased 362 forward refueling systems for helicopters operating from remote bases. The system contains pumps, filters and hoses, and allows four helicopters to be refueled simultaneously, at a rate of 55 gallons per minute per helicopter. An AH-64 gunship, for example, has an internal fuel capacity of 375 gallons. That will keep it in the air for about 90 minutes. The AH-64 can also carry up to four 230 gallon (each) external tanks. But you can see the need for a refueling point near to where the action is taking place. The fuel comes from 3,000 or 10,000 collapsible fabric fuel tanks, or a fuel truck. The collapsible tanks can be filled by truck, or fuel brought in by helicopter or C-130. The refueling system takes about 20 minutes to set up, and 25 minutes to pack up and move. U.S. forces in Iraq use about 1.7 million gallons of fuel a day, and helicopters are among the largest consumers. Each refueling system costs about $260,000, and they are deployed to Afghanistan, Germany and Korea as well.


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