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Modular Fuel System Improves Fuel Distribution

The Army has a history of being at the leading edge of warfighting technological innovation. That tradition is continuing with the development by the Product Manager, Petroleum and Water Systems (PM PAWS), in Warren, Michigan, of the Modular Fuel System (MFS), formerly known as the Load Handling System Modular Fuel Farm. The MFS will dramatically alter the way the Army distributes bulk and retail fuel. The MFS consists of two 600-gallon-per-minute pump racks and fourteen 2,500-gallon tank racks for a total capacity of 35,000 gallons. This system is destined to become the cornerstone of class III (petroleum, oils, and lubricants) support for the Army’s Future Combat Systems, modular brigades, and Stryker brigade combat teams. The Army does not have a legacy system that can compare to the MFS’s increased mobility, capability, compatibility, maintainability, sustainability,
and performance.

ISO Tank Rack Design

The Army’s decision to use a separate International Organization for Standardization (ISO) tank rack and pump rack configuration established the foundation for the flexible MFS. A surprisingly large amount of equipment was incorporated into the two racks as standard equipment, so a separate vehicle no longer will be required to follow the tanker to carry essential equipment. The standard equipment setup includes 3,300 feet of hose and the full compliment of nozzles needed to support multiple retail, bulk, and aviation distribution points. The system can support two refuel-on-the-move configurations for a total of 16 distribution points. A full range of nozzles are provided with the MFS, including the D–1, 1 inch, 1.5 inch, closed-circuit refueling, and North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The MFS is compatible with all military fuel mixtures, and an additive fuel injector can be installed.

Redundancy is critical in today’s fast-paced battlefield environment. The MFS achieves redundancy by using ISO-certified, self-contained tank and pump racks. Built-in test equipment with manual override and bypass tubing also has been installed for all critical functions. The independence of each pump or tank rack provides the needed redundancy and ensures that a failure in any single component will not compromise mission support.

Safety and Environmental Features

Safety and environmental concerns were addressed early in the development of the system, ensuring that exceptional safety standards were set. For example, the common “dead man” switch on the fuel manager control panel is backed up by multiple emergency shut-off switches, and the remote-controlled tank valves are backed up by manual safety shut-off valves. In addition, a new Fuel Tank Sealant System (FTSS) is being considered for incorporation into the system. The FTSS would provide secondary containment without adding significant weight to the MFS’s streamlined weight configuration.

The MFS not only will be the usual Army green, but it also will be environmentally “green.” The primary contractor has incorporated a new standard for environmental excellence into the overall system design. One example of this concerted effort is the replacement of industry-standard cadmium connectors with more environmentally friendly stainless steel connectors. This change will reduce future demilitarization costs significantly. The contractor worked closely with PM PAWS in a team effort to create a truly “green” machine.

Low rate initial production of MFS resulted in the delivery of developmental testing assets in November 2005. These assets are being subjected to rigorous, ongoing testing that will determine their ability to meet the high standards required to achieve a 25-year design life. Once the testing is complete and all military specifications are met, the Army will be ready to field the MFS.

Major Leon O. Williams is the Assistant Product Manager for the Modular Fuel System in the Office of the Program Manager for Petroleum and Water Systems, Program Executive Office for Combat Support and Combat Service Support, Tank-automotive and Armaments command (TACOM) Life Cycle Management Command, in Warren, Michigan. He is a graduate of the Auburn University College of Engineering.

Arthur Jankowski is a weapon systems manager in the Petroleum and Water Systems Division of the Integrated Logistics Support Center, TACOM Life Cycle Management Command, in Warren Michigan. He holds a B.A. degree in marketing from the University of Michigan and an M.A. degree in business management from Central Michigan University.