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Army March 17, 2011
IT'S not often soldiers from
10FSB get the opportunity to
support an international event.
Six personnel from a 10FSB
Bulk Fuel Installation (BFI) section
were given the task of supplying fuel
to some of the world's most advanced
combat aircraft at the Australian
International Airshow at Avalon
between February 21 and March 8.
Airshow BFI Sect Commander
Cpl James Stephenson said his site
provided fuel to all of the attending
USAF aircraft and more.
"The fuel we supplied was F-34
which most of the helicopters, includ-
ing our Black Hawks and MRH-90s,
also run on," Cpl Stephenson said.
"We could hold up to 270,000lt in
two 136,000lt tanks and we always
kept between 250,000 and 270,000lt
in the tanks at any one time. We could
pump 1200lt of fuel a minute through
100mm pipes to and from the tanks to
It was the first time the unit had
supported the Avalon event and Cpl
Stephenson and his men didn't take
long to set up the site.
"We arrived on February
20 and after the tank bunding
had been constructed by civil-
ian contractors, we had the BFI
ready and operating within 12
hours," Cpl Stephenson said.
It was a long and compli-
cated process for the BFI to fill
the aviation trucks with fuel, which
then drove to the aircraft waiting at
the flight line.
Cpl Stephenson and his team went
through an intricate receipting proce-
dure with built-in safeguards, ensur-
ing the fuel was safe to be used by
It all began with their deliveries of
fuel to fill their tanks.
"The truck made a delivery to our
site and before we accepted it we took
samples from each of the five mod-
ules of the tanker," Cpl Stephenson
"We first did a visual test looking
for any of the three types of water
contamination; free, dissolved and
"Free water shows up as big beads
in the sample, dissolved water gives
the fuel a cloudy colour and finally
entrained water, which is not visible
to the naked eye and is only visible
after testing in our mobile lab."
Cpl Stephenson then took
the sample to the mobile lab
set up in a shipping container
and checked it for electrical
conductivity, flash point and
the levels of Fuel System Icing
"If the fuel doesn't pass any
of these tests, I can reject the tanker,"
"When the samples did pass the
tests the tanker pumped into one of
our tanks and another sample was
then taken and confirmatory tested at
RAAF Base East Sale."
Only after the East Sale lab called
Cpl Stephenson to confirm a positive
test result, the fuel could be released
for use in the airshow aircraft.
The 10FSB BFI airshow deploy-
ment was an important role Cpl
Stephenson and his team hoped to
perform again in the future.
"It was the first big RAAF exer-
cise we've dealt with and we built
relations between us and the Air
Force," he said.
"We showed we could perform in
the role, were deployable, reliable and
got the fuel out as quickly as possible,
on time, with no malfunctions and the
fuel was good.
"If it wasn't the consequences
could be deadly."
If the fuel doesn't pass
any of these tests, I can
reject the tanker.
Fuelling the fires Refuellers from 10FSB kept many
of the Avalon Airshow's gas-
guzzilng jets flying, Sgt Andrew
Facts and figures
The six 10FSB personnel main-
tained up to 270,000lt of F-34
aviation fuel in two 136,000l tanks.
The BFI pumps could deliver
1200lt of fuel to waiting tankers.
During the airshow the installation
provided more than 670,000lt of
On the flight line: Pte Jordan Parker attaches a hose to a pump, to transfer fuel to an Air Force tanker at the Australian International Air Show
at Avalon, while Cpl James Stephenson (inset) tests the fuel for impurities.
Photos by Sgt Andrew Hetherington
Only the best: The
10FSB refuellers were
primarily responsible for
warplanes such as
this visiting US Air
Photo by AC
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