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Luke AFB changes refueling truck color, mitigates F-35 shutdowns

Senior Airman Jacob Hartman checks out the newly painted R-11 refueling truck at the Logistic Readiness Squadron vehicle yard at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. After receiving waiver approval from the Air Education and Training Command, the 56th LRS had the fuel tank painted white to keep the fuel inside from overheating. The changes to the truck were made because the F-35 Lightning II has a fuel temperature threshold and cannot function properly if the fuel temperature is too high. Hartman is a 56th LRS fuels distribution operator (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Luther Mitchell Jr.)

Senior Airman Jacob Hartman checks out the newly painted R-11 refueling truck at the Logistic Readiness Squadron vehicle yard at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. After receiving waiver approval from the Air Education and Training Command, the 56th LRS had the fuel tank painted white to keep the fuel inside from overheating. The changes to the truck were made because the F-35 Lightning II has a fuel temperature threshold and cannot function properly if the fuel temperature is too high. Hartman is a 56th LRS fuels distribution operator (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Luther Mitchell Jr.)

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. (AFNS) -- The 56th Logistics Readiness Squadron recently added a new fuel truck to its fleet designed to improve mission effectiveness and safety on the flightline.

However, it’s not really a new fuel truck, but an old fuel truck with its tank painted white.

What LRS Airmen once referred to as "Big Green," the “new” truck with a white fuel tank has been a little difficult for some to get used to; however, the change has a better purpose then just being aesthetically pleasing.

"We painted the refuelers white to reduce the temperature of fuel being delivered to the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter," said Senior Airman Jacob Hartman, a 56th LRS fuels distribution operator. "The F-35 has a fuel temperature threshold and may not function properly if the fuel temperature is too high, so after collaborating with other bases and receiving waiver approval from (the Air Education Training Command), we painted the tanks white."

With the change, the 56th LRS hopes for no delay in aircraft take-offs, all while maintaining mission sorties and ensuring pilots meet training requirements.

"It ensures the F-35 is able to meet its sortie requirements," said Chief Master Sgt. Ralph Resch, the 56th LRS fuels manager. "We are taking proactive measures to mitigate any possible aircraft shutdowns due to high fuel temperatures in the future."

The squadron adopted the idea after it was first implemented at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

In the summer months at Luke AFB, temperatures can reach beyond 110 degrees. Painting the tanks white now will help prevent fuel stored in the tanks from over-heating.

"This is the short-term goal to cool the fuel for the F-35; however, the long-term fix is to have parking shades for the refuelers," Resch said.

The white paint is special because it is a solar polyurethane enamel that reflects the heat of the sun's rays. Interestingly, after dropping off the first truck to be painted, the 56th LRS learned it is not the color that reflects the heat.

"The painting process is a two-part process, and the second part is the reflective process," said Master Sgt. Joseph Maurin, the 56th LRS fuels distribution NCO in charge. "The painter said it did not have to be a white color, so we are going to send one of the four vehicles to get painted green, if possible. We will then compare temperatures between the green and white trucks."

Luke AFBs refuelers are also deployable and a white fuel truck would stick out like a sore thumb down range. The 56th LRS is hopeful that the tanks can be painted green and still keep fuel temperatures down.

The 56th LRS has been approved to paint four trucks and it takes about a week to complete, at a cost of $3,900 per truck.

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