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Dyess completes flying hour program

Dyess Air Force Base, Texas -- On Sept. 25, Team Dyess surpassed its number of yearly allocated flying hours for the first time in six years.

Each year, major commands dedicate flying hours to bases depending on budget and expenses, which are completed throughout the year. In the past, Dyess has returned portions of those hours to be redistributed amongst other wings.

In fiscal year 2013, the four B-1 squadrons to include the 9th Bomb Squadron, 28th Bomb Squadron, 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron and 77th Weapons Squadron, completed the 5,840 hours they were originally allotted, plus an additional 11 hours returned from other flying units.

Dyess close-out flying hour program was a success, largely because of recent innovations in warm-pit and hot-pit refueling. The use of warm-pit and hot-pit refueling has given Dyess the opportunity to execute at a higher operations tempo than in the past, flying more sorties in less time.

"Warm and hot-pit refueling allows crews to complete more training objectives because aircraft are being utilized in a capacity allowing more flight hours," said Lt. Col. Todd Bean, 7th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander. "With B-1s on the ground for shorter increments of time between sorties, they are using the 10 to 14 hour flying window to its full extent."

Warm-pit refueling is executed with the aircraft's engines shut down and one Auxiliary Power Unit running on the aircraft's left side. Hot-pit refuels take place while both engines on the aircraft's left side are operating. During both scenarios, the B-1 receives minimal maintenance, allowing aircraft maintainers to prioritize man hours to other aircraft.

Before warm-pit and hot-pit refueling, aircraft could be held upwards of four hours, using as many as five maintainers to inspect and refuel the jet. The alternate refueling techniques often take less than 90 minutes to complete.

"With these options, our maintainers are capable of dedicating fewer hours to the aircraft being refueled," said Maj. Kevin Koren, 7th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron operations officer. "That translates into being able to apply our Airmen where we need them most. The four man hours that would be spent on that one aircraft can be apportioned where we need them more."

In 2010, Dyess began building the foundation for B-1 warm-pit refueling. Simultaneously, Ellsworth AFB, S.D., ventured into hot-pit refueling. In early 2013, once both bases were compliant and confident in their abilities to execute their tasks, maintenance personnel from each base shared inside knowledge, expertise and experience, enabling each base to use both procedures. Since Dyess began refueling with active aircraft, there have been no injuries or damage to equipment.

"The innovations we have made with warm-pit and hot-pit refueling haven't only been successful for Dyess, but for the B-1 community as a whole," Bean said. "In the future it will become the standard which can be executed, aiding us in meeting the needs of our nation."

"I'm extremely proud of the effort our Airmen have made, not just in the Maintenance Group, but across the wing," said Lt Col Rick Gibbs, 7th Maintenance Group commander. "The level of innovation and teamwork used to overcome the challenges we face today is impressive and speaks volumes about the high caliber of our Airman. This accomplishment translates directly into increased combat capability for the B-1s."

The success of Team Dyess' B-1s can be traced across the base. The 7th Mission Support Group is the most diverse group in its duties and drives these refueling capabilities. Fuel trucks and Airmen provided by the 7th Logistic Readiness Squadron along with firefighters from the 7th Civil Engineer Squadron, are required on scene for each warm and hot-pit refuel.

"The combined efforts of our Mission Support, Maintenance and Operations teams make this possible," said Col. Brian Yates, 7th Mission Support Group commander. "Our priority is to execute the mission each and every day, which means keeping airplanes in the air. The warm and hot pit refueling procedures let us get the biggest boom for the buck - and with a B-1B, that can be a pretty big boom!"

"It comes down to the level of commitment from individual Airmen across Dyess," said Col. Steven Beasley, 7th Bomb Wing vice commander. "Our Airmen have dedicated themselves to mission readiness and truly put service before self to make sure we are ready to accomplish our mission of providing dominant airpower and combat support to Combatant and Joint Force Commanders...anytime, and anywhere."

With the B-1 scheduled for its largest modification in history as part of the Integrated Battle Station and Sustainment Block 16 upgrade, Dyess leadership will continue to call upon Airmen for success.

"Even with fewer aircraft available to us because of software modifications, we will be expected to continue the legacy we have built for ourselves," said Col. Jason Combs, 7th Operations Group commander. "Now we have the tools, through our Airmen and innovation, to continue moving forward and being successful."

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