325th LRS POL: The lifeblood of air dominance

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Stefan Alvarez
  • 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Directly supporting Tyndall’s F-35A Lightning II fleet and exercises such as Checkered Flag, one of the Department of Defense’s largest aerial combat exercises, the 325th Logistics Readiness Squadron’s petroleum, oils and lubricants flight provides vital support in maintaining unrivaled air dominance.

POL provides, stores, tests and transports thousands of gallons of high-quality fuel needed for DoD and allied aircraft to train and execute their missions.

“POL’s mission can be boiled down to delivering clean, quality fuel in a quick and safe manner,” said Staff Sgt. Matthew Dunne, 325th LRS noncommissioned officer in charge of fuels distribution. “The saying, ‘Bullets don’t fly without supply,’ can be applied to Air Force POL because without us the jets aren’t going anywhere.”

Although there are many components within the POL flight, such as the laboratory and cryogenics, the bread and butter of POL is working behind the scenes to ensure fuel is free of any sediment or debris before distribution to aircraft.

“Our flight tests every drop of fuel that gets filled into the jets at least three times,” said Tech. Sgt. Robert Semcho, 325th LRS operations section chief. “After we make sure its free of any contaminants, we fill up our fuel trucks and head out to the flight line to make sure the jets are gassed up before they take off.”

With Tyndall recently receiving their first F-35A Lightning II aircraft and expecting more in the coming years, POL is ready for the ramp up in their operations tempo and expanding their capabilities.

“Now that we have our own aircraft that fly missions regularly, our team is going to be getting busier,” Dunne said. “We’re now doing hot-pit refueling, which is when aircraft come in and land for a quick refuel to get back in the air as soon as possible, which means we’re getting after the Agile Combat Employment mindset and doctrine.”

POL’s refueling capabilities showcase the concept of ACE while demonstrating the Air Force’s global reach.

“Hot-pit refueling is the most Air Force thing that POL can do,” said Dunne. “It shows that no matter where we are or what aircraft we’re supporting, we can do our job with a high degree of competency to make sure air power doesn’t stop just because we’re in a new environment.”

The ability to refuel multiple airframes is a required skill for 325th LRS Airmen. Tyndall plays host to Checkered Flag and Weapon System Evaluation Program exercises which bring 4th and 5th generation aircraft to the base, including the F-35 Lightning II variants, F-22 Raptors, F-18 Hornets and F-16 Fighting Falcons, all of which the POL flight is ready to support.

“Having the chance to get the team out and refuel jets that most other POL shops don’t get to is a huge benefit,” said Semcho. “It greatly expands our knowledge and skillset. Being familiar with these different airframes makes us a force multiplier while deployed or working with our allies. When we see an aircraft take off then land hours later, we know we did our job to enable them to do their job. Nothing flies and nothing drives without a well-oiled POL Flight.”