TSW Delivering Expeditionary Fuels on Every Major Operation in the Last 40 Years!


TSW is based at Beacon Barracks, MoD Stafford, but very rarely (if at all) will you find many at home.

The primary Mission of TSW is “To deliver aviation fuel support to Battlefield Helicopters in the most effective manner in order to meet the requirements set by JHC”. Translated, this means that TSW will provide aviation fuel that is fit for purpose, under any conditions, anywhere in the world. Now this may sound pretty straight-forward but the personnel that make this happen understand the mammoth task that this entails. Equally, I am sure that many a pilot or crewman will bear testimony to the joy that a TSW rank-slide has brought in some far-flung corner of the globe. So, where are you most likely to encounter one of these dedicated professionals that pride themselves in providing a ‘liquid lifeline’ to the rotary assets of JHC?

If you happen to be in Kenya during the Ex ASKARI THUNDER season or even during the Christmas break between exercises, you will find TSW personnel supporting helicopters from Laikipia Air Base. This is our Main Operating Base where the fuel is received from Shell Kenya in road tankers as F35. The fuel will go through extensive testing to ensure it is fit for purpose prior to it being blended with Fuel System Icing Inhibitor by TSW operators to produce AVTUR F34. TSW also have a dedicated refuel site at FOB SIMBA in ‘Archers Post’, guarded by the Massai when we are not in residence. They take their responsibilities very seriously and are armed with spears to fend off the lions and rodents (which are bigger than the lions!) Additionally, TSW personnel can also be found moving around the bondu in Osh Kosh Tactical Aircraft Refuellers (TARs) that provide a mobile Forward Refuel Point (FRP) capability where ever it is required.

Delivering Aviation Fuel Support to Battlefield Helicopters
Starting in Afghanistan on Op HERRICK, where TSW maintains a permanent 22-person det, the main task is to provide Forward Refuel Point (FRP) capability in support of deliberate ops ‘outside of the wire’ as well as maintaining a 24/7 Rotors Turning Refuel capability at BASTION and FOBs as required. Hover-refuels and ac defuels are also undertaken when the situation requires these capabilities. Additionally, the Wing supports the Combat Logistic Patrols that achieve the bulk movement of fuel by road to the FOBs. TSW expertise in quality assurance and, when required, use of the portable chemical laboratory is also provided to ensure that fuel is always available to JHC assets and our NATO partners.

For a few months of the year, TSW can be found in Oman supporting both fixed and rotary assets. This is predominantly a Wg Para Cadre tasking where the TSW troops like to practice the air despatched FRP capability, using ‘old faithful’, which is a couple of fuel “bollocks”, hoses, pump and filter set up, that are squeezed into a frame for air delivery by C130. The guys then jump out after it in an attempt to minimise the distance they need to run back to the landing point. Spain is a more recent addition to TSW’s exercise plot. In support of the European Air Group, we are tasked with leading the international effort on deploying fuel capability forward in support of an effort to rescue downed aircrew in a hostile environment. This allows us to share expertise while at the same time educating our European Allies in delivering fuel in a tactical environment. Likewise, TSW deployed with Ex JEBEL SAHARA 10 to assist the Moroccan Royal Air Force by providing the knowledge and skill sets required to safely operate a rotors turning capability, fuels testing, accounting, assurance and equipment care.

TSW can be found throughout the UK, as they are usually involved in supporting rotary or fixed wing assets that are engaged in all major and minor exercises. We provide a multitude of capabilities that are tailored to the specific requirements of the task and airframe. Elsewhere, TSW fulfils a role in providing static displays of the extensive equipment in support of Air and Town Shows on behalf of RAF Recruiting. Last but not least, the TSW rank-slide has even been known to assist Civil Emergency Services on exercise and during real time operations such as the Cumbrian floods.

Operating, and not just surviving, in all environments includes the relative cold of Norway on Ex CLOCKWORK. The Royal Marine Commandos provide us with all the Arctic Training we need, including snow-hole camping and a Turkish Bath (minus the steam room) prior to a dip in an ice cold lake. On completion of Arctic Training TSW personnel support CHF and RAF elements through provision of Rotors Turning Refuelling at the MOB, and with vehicle (BV109) and flying FRPs. This is also a great opportunity for TSW personnel to experience the 8th wonder of the world, known as the Norwegian (helicopter-induced) White Out.

We even have a small permanent detachment in the Falkland Islands based at Fox Bay in support of the SAR capability. While here, the lucky few get to maintain this vital link to the Western Falklands by looking after a semi-permanent installation and the HLS, and is an opportunity to integrate themselves with the local population. They live in a remote enclave and have been known to assist scientific expeditions with monitoring the local Gentoo penguin population.

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