The US Army Aviation Center of Excellence hosted commercial business representatives at Fort Rucker for an "Industry Day" event to provide information about refuel/defuel service requirements to support Aviation training here Jan. 18.

Representatives from more than 15 companies attended the event, which included a USAACE and Fort Rucker overview briefing, a "windshield" tour of operations at two Army airfields and one stage field and a question and answer session.

USAACE Senior Executive Serviceman Russell B. Hall, deputy to the commanding general, welcomed participants during his opening remarks at Ford Hall.

"It's a cost to you, to your companies to commit to do things, and to write contracts, and I want to thank you for your endeavors to support our national defense and our Army," he said.

Hall said the Fort Rucker mission of training Army aviators is "critical to our nation."

"Without those integral fuel operations, we can't do anything," Hall said. "We're looking for competition, looking for good, innovative ways to improve. That's how we make our Army and our country better."

Hall also emphasized best value and not just the lowest bid that is technically feasible.

Aviation training at Fort Rucker is projected to ramp-up in the next few years with increased student throughput, Hall said.

The solicitation for proposals for the refuel/defuel services contract for Aviation training at Fort Rucker is expected to be issued in June, with bid proposals due to the Army's Mission and Installation Contracting Command staff at Fort Eustis, Va. in July. The contract is expected to be awarded in October.

"We anticipate a firm fixed price contact, single award, and the duration will be up to seven years, with one base year and six option (years)," said Linda Whitlock, contracting officer for MICC.

According to Lowell Preskitt, deputy G-4 (logistics) for USAACE, the goal of the event was to provide information to industry to inform future bid proposals, to be open and transparent in the process, and also to solicit recommendations for ways to accomplish the mission more efficiently.

"We've been refueling the same way for several years. There's got to be a more economical, efficient way to go about refueling 500 flights per day," said Preskitt.

Preskitt gave the participants an overview of flight school -- including the aircraft types, stages of training and the incremental phasing-in of the UH-72A Lakota helicopter for Initial Entry Rotary Wing training.

He explained the scope of the training mission and of the refuel/defuel requirements, including "hot" gas (aircraft running, rotors turning) and "cold" gas (parked aircraft, tied down) for refuel operations across five base airfields, and 14 stage fields.

The defuel requirement is primarily for maintenance purposes, he said.

Hot refuel capability at stage fields is the most efficient way to train students and allows them to focus on training maneuvers instead of flying somewhere to get gas, Preskitt explained.

Currently fuel trucks make multiple trips daily between Fort Rucker airfields and stage fields to facilitate three flight periods.

"We're looking to increase our flexibility. Right now we can only support three sorties per day," Preskitt said. "We want to try to expand our flexibility to get to where we can do five or six or more if possible. We're looking at changes in how we train in the future and we want some ideas about how to go about doing that."

With approximately 700 fuel transactions per day, Fort Rucker has the largest number of fuel transactions per day in the Department of Defense, Preskitt said.

Edward Kimbley, contracting officer's representative for the Logistics Readiness Center here told participants the fiscal theme for the foreseeable future is doing more with less.

"Be open to look at all opportunities to save the government money. As we move forward, money is tight and is probably going to get tighter in the next couple years. We're asking for your support to figure out ways we can innovate and get best value for funding," said Kimbley.

The event also included information about how small business can team up and encouraged small businesses to participate.