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Fuel upgrades improve Lajes Field mission

by Senior Airman Troy Davis
Det. 6, Air Force News Agency

6/22/2007 - LAJES FIELD, Portugal (AFPN) -- Congress recently approved an $18 million project to upgrade and expand the fuel hydrant system at Lajes Field that will greatly enhance the base's mission to refuel aircraft flying across the Atlantic Ocean. 

Over the years, the existing fuel system began to show signs of age and use, but instead of demolishing and replacing the system, the project will renovate the current equipment and increase the number of storage and refueling stations.

"The new system will pump up to 2,400 gallons of fuel per minute," said Tom Riddle, the construction project manager. "This will make it possible to refuel up to four aircraft at the same time. We're also creating nine new aircraft fueling stations on the flightline and two new (fuel) storage tanks. The upgrade doubles the capabilities of the current system."

Located strategically in the middle of the Atlantic, the base is a critical refueling point for aircraft heading to and from missions across Europe and the Middle East. If the fuels equipment goes bad, the mission quickly comes to a halt.

"We're in the middle of the ocean", said Tech. Sgt. Mical Turner of Lajes Field. "If we lose our refueling capabilities, even temporarily, it has a great affect on the entire global mission."

The new fuel hydrant system will greatly reduce the risk of equipment failure with completely automated monitoring and control systems.

"We're integrating new electronics, including a brand new state-of-the-art leak detection system, so they can constantly monitor the pressure system," Mr. Riddle said. "This is to ensure there are no leaks throughout the network of underground pipes, and it will allow Airmen to pinpoint the problem quickly."

Construction of the project is expected to be finished by October of this year. 

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