UK — Bulletproof balls deliver fuel to front line

Giant sacks, spe­cial­ly designed to trans­port fuel by air to the front line, have been deliv­ered to troops in Afghanistan.

A pair of the new Kevlar-reinforced Air Portable Fuel Containers Mk 5 [Picture: Crown Copyright/MOD 2011]
A pair of the new Kevlar-rein­forced Air Portable Fuel Con­tain­ers Mk 5 [Pic­ture: Crown Copyright/MOD 2011]
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

The Air Portable Fuel Con­tain­ers Mk 5 are enor­mous rub­ber balls which enable essen­tial fuel sup­plies to be deliv­ered by air to more remote areas of operations. 

The bal­loon-like con­tain­ers, which hold up to two tonnes of fuel each, also con­tain the poly­mer Kevlar, a flex­i­ble plas­tic com­mon­ly used in body armour, to keep the con­tents pro­tect­ed from ene­my fire. 

Mea­sur­ing 4.5 feet (1.37m) in diam­e­ter when full, the Mk 5 con­tain­ers can be eas­i­ly trans­port­ed in a sling under a heli­copter or in the back of a trans­port air­craft. The Kevlar pro­tec­tion means they can also be para­chut­ed into loca­tions or dropped from heights of up to 25 feet (7.62m).

It means that per­son­nel sta­tioned at for­ward oper­at­ing bases or check points — who rely on fuel to pow­er the gen­er­a­tors which pro­vide them with heat, light, med­ical facil­i­ties and com­mu­ni­ca­tions equip­ment — do not have to wait as long as they would for the vital sup­plies to be trans­port­ed by road. 

Flight Lieu­tenant John Har­ri­son, Tac­ti­cal Sup­ply Wing Detach­ment com­man­der at Camp Bas­tion, Hel­mand province, said: 

“The Mk 5’s give the TSW great flex­i­bil­i­ty and are a key enabler in deliv­er­ing bat­tle­field heli­copters with essen­tial fuel whilst oper­at­ing at or near front line operations. 

“They are extreme­ly robust and have the capa­bil­i­ty to be air­lift­ed full of fuel and deposit­ed wher­ev­er they are need­ed, usu­al­ly in extreme­ly aus­tere locations. 

“This allows the bat­tle­field heli­copter to extend its reach from Camp Bas­tion and spend longer at the front line to deliv­er valu­able sup­port to ground troops. They are rel­a­tive­ly main­te­nance-free and easy to oper­ate, mak­ing them an essen­tial bit of equipment.” 

Richard Hol­loway, Bat­tle­field Util­i­ties Project Team Leader for MOD’s Defence Equip­ment and Sup­port, which secured the deliv­ery of the con­tain­ers, said: 

“These con­tain­ers pro­vide an effec­tive, safe and quick means of deliv­er­ing fuel to the front line, ensur­ing essen­tial sup­port to operations.” 

Designed and built in the UK, the con­tain­ers have been bought under a £2m, five-year agree­ment with GKN Aero­space, based in Portsmouth. 

Phil Swash, Pres­i­dent and CEO, Aerostruc­tures Europe, GKN Aero­space, said: 

“The real con­tri­bu­tion this equip­ment makes to the effec­tive func­tion­ing of our troops work­ing in remote and for­ward bases is some­thing this team and the whole site is extreme­ly proud of.” 

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK 

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