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Air Force painting tanker trucks white to help keep fuel for F-35s cool enough to use

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Posted at 5:24 PM, Dec 16, 2014
and last updated 2014-12-16 17:24:29-05

Another wrinkle has cropped up with the F-35. This time the fix isn’t with the plane, but with the fuel trucks that fill it up.

Senior Airman Jacob Hartman checks out the newly painted R-11 refueling truck at the Logistic Readiness Squadron vehicle yard at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Luther Mitchell Jr.)

Senior Airman Jacob Hartman checks out the newly painted R-11 refueling truck at the Logistic Readiness Squadron vehicle yard at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Luther Mitchell Jr.)

The F-35 is designed to use its fuel as a coolant, but the Air Force has found that fuel trucks sitting in the sun at bases in Arizona and California have had their fuel heat to the point that it can’t be used in the new plane.

The solution: Paint the tanker trucks white.

Crews at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona recently painted some of their tankers white in order to better reflect the sun’s rays and keep their cargo cool enough.

“It ensures the F-35 is able to meet its sortie requirements,” said Chief Master Sgt. Ralph Resch, the 56th LRS fuels manager said in a release from the Air Force. “We are taking proactive measures to mitigate any possible aircraft shutdowns due to high fuel temperatures in the future.”

In the summer months at Luke AFB, temperatures can reach beyond 110 degrees. Painting the tanks white now will help prevent fuel stored in the tanks from over-heating.

“This is the short-term goal to cool the fuel for the F-35; however, the long-term fix is to have parking shades for the refuelers,” Resch said.

The Air Force hopes a new coating will eventually allow the trucks to be painted their old colors while still reflecting enough solar energy to keep the fuel cool, since white trucks would stand out like a sore thumb in a combat environment.