CHARLESTON AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. –
The 437th Logistics Readiness Squadron Fuels Flight is currently testing the Air Force's first R-11 hybrid electric refueling truck.
The vehicle, which is nearly identical to the standard R-11 refueling truck, operates with a diesel engine and an electric motor attached to a battery pack to optimize fuel efficiency.
Diesel hybrid electric vehicles combine the power of an electric motor with that of a diesel engine. The electric motor assists the diesel in launching the vehicle and regenerates energy during braking. This energy is stored as electrical energy in the battery pack and is then used in place of diesel fuel.
Anticipated advantages for the Air Force include better fuel economy, reduced emissions and noise, longer engine and brake system service intervals and lower overall operating costs.
Although the truck uses advanced technology it's very easy to operate and maintain.
"It's been built to be as user-friendly as possible," said Staff Sgt. Michael Krawzak, 437 LRS assistant NCO in charge of refueling maintenance. "All technical aspects are transparent to operators and maintainers."
To operate the truck to refuel an aircraft there are just a few extra steps that are different than the standard R-11, said Airman 1st Class Daniel Queen, 437 LRS fuels distribution operator.
The hybrid truck was first used to refuel Air Force One when President Bush visited Charleston in October. It was also the first time, outside of training, that Airman Queen refueled an aircraft.
"The truck worked just like it was supposed to," said Airman Queen. "It was a very memorable experience."
The truck is the first prototype in a development between the Advanced Power Technology Office at Robins AFB, Ga., and the Mack-Volvo Corporation to incorporate hybrid electric technology for military and commercial use.
"One of the reasons we're going toward hybrid electric technology is that it will advance the capability of the warfighter, reduce maintenance costs, reduce environmental impact and reduce our dependency on foreign energy sources," said Mike Mead, APTO chief.