U.S. Army special operations aviators show off improved fueling system

By T. Anthony BellOctober 9, 2019

Army special operations aviators show off improved fueling system
U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Command Soldiers move the improved Advanced Aviation Forward Area Refueling System in place to fuel a Black Hawk helicopter during a Sept. 26 demonstration at McLaney Drop Zone. The improved AFFARS is said to pro... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT LEE, Va. (Oct. 9, 2019) -- A forward-area fueling system used within the U.S. special operations community was demonstrated here recently.

Representatives of U.S. Army Special Operations Aviation Command showed off a modified version of the Advanced Aviation Forward Area Refueling System to members of the Army Futures Command and CASCOM at McLaney Drop Zone Sept. 26.

AAFARS, used to refuel helicopters in austere environments, has been in the Army inventory for decades and has seen various improvements over that time. The latest version demonstrated here was tested and accepted by the Army's famed 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, according to Air Logistics Corporation, the manufacturer.

Lt. Col. Todd Hanks, USASOAC G4, was on hand for the demonstration. He said the latest AAFARS is an improvement over earlier versions in almost every major area of consideration.

"This system provides an increased fuel rate versus the current model, and extends the operational reach of our aircraft -- that's the biggest benefit for the warfighter," he said.

The system also is lighter, more mobile and easier to emplace, added Hanks.

"It takes one hour from the time it's dropped in to set up," he said, noting it is air deliverable. "It fits into that one-hour timeline for our missions. Furthermore, it is all contained in one unit versus separate compartments for filters, pump, etc."

Sgt. Maj. Andre Brown, USASOAC G4 SGM, said the demonstrated version is also quite adaptable.

"It can be employed as a ground refueling system as well," he said, "so when I need to use diesel or whatever is available on the economy that is JP8 equivalent, this system can accommodate. This makes it very convenient for multi-domain environments."

The newest AAFARS is not an Army program of record, which means it is not funded, but its operational validity and features should translate to increased capability across the service, said Hanks.

"We think it has greater benefit for the conventional force -- for all the combat aviation brigades," he said.

USASOAC is working with Futures Command to further study how the system can be adapted for conventional and nonconventional use, Brown said.

He added there has been no indications on the probability of fielding the latest system.

An earlier version of AAFARS has been taught at the Quartermaster School's Petroleum and Water Department for at least a decade, said Jeffrey Ardis, Logistics and Material Readiness Directorate, CASCOM.

USASOAC's iniative to field a modified AAFARS supports Army modernization efforts, which promote unity of command and effort and cost effectiveness.