Airman's invention sparks excitement for fuels community

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Alex Miller
  • 52nd Fighter Wing

As the Air Force faces continued fiscal constraints, the need for Airmen to be innovative in identifying and solving mission shortfalls keeps growing.

For the 52nd Fighter Wing Innovation Cell at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, adopting Master Sgt. Jason Yunker and Master Sgt. Tim Peters' new concept for a rapid refueling sled came as an improvement to a standing maintenance practice.

Their kit design has been selected as one of this year’s Air Force Spark Tank competition finalists because of its benefits to the LRS community.

“Being selected as a finalist feels crazy,” said Yunker, a 52nd Logistics Readiness Squadron section chief of fuels operations. “It’s still kind of hard to believe.”

Spark Tank allows Airmen to compete with their innovative ideas for the betterment of the Air Force. Being a Spark Tank finalist is a huge accomplishment for these Airmen as well as the 52nd FW.

“I realized that there were costs and things that were happening just for the sake of making the mission happen,” said Yunker. “After scrubbing through all applicable technical orders and researching capabilities of various equipment that we already use, I rearranged and repurposed equipment from different operations to help meet our need and allow us to work better with our partner nations.”

The kit is made of preexisting Air Force-approved equipment, put together into a new configuration to allow fuels Airmen to hot and cold pit refuel aircraft in austere locations.

“The Viper Kit is the future of refueling mobility,” said Peters a 52nd LRS NCO in charge of quality assurance. “It uses host nation airfield-filtered fuel sources and requires no hazardous cargo classification, so it can be shipped quickly and for a fraction of the cost of a refueling truck.”

This specialized configuration allows the fuels team the ability to work with our host nation countries while using Air Force-certified equipment to fuel the American jets when and where it is needed.

The Viper Kit is different from the current Air Force procedures because it mitigates the hazardous cargo shipping requirements from shipping equipment to support hot pit operations.

“My hope for the Viper Kit is for the Air Force to adopt it and implement it in various support missions around the world,” Yunker said. “It would give us a new capability and more options when we deploy in our small package teams.”

For anyone else looking to submit their ideas, Peters has a word of advice.

“Don’t be afraid to take the leap and make it better than you found it,” said Peters. “You’ll probably fail a few times along the way, but as long as you learn from them and keep improving, nothing can stop you.”

Fighter wing leaders and innovation cell members are discussing the Viper Kit’s potential impact on all aircraft.

A decision for this year’s winner is slated to be announced at the end February.