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News | June 15, 2020

FRCSW Shop Services Hornet Fuel Tanks

By Jim Markle

VIRIN: 200615-N-XZ252-0069

When F/A-18 Hornet aircraft are inducted for maintenance or repair at Fleet Readiness Center Southwest (FRCSW), many of their components are removed for analysis and overhaul. One of the largest is the aircraft's fuel tanks. 

Like the aircraft's other components, the fuel tanks require testing and repair to make sure they are safe and operating as designed before being reattached to the aircraft.

The Hornet fuel tanks are serviced in Building 443. As part of their inspection, artisans look for punctures, de-laminations and fire damage.

The tanks are also pressure checked, and worn or fatigued parts replaced prior to forwarding to the paint shop.

The fuel tanks modular valve is also removed from the aircraft for evaluation. The valve serves to transfer the fuel from the tank. Repair parts are ordered and installed, as required.

Because the fuel tanks are made of fiberglass, artisans outside of the fuel tank shop handle those repairs.

Once returned from the paint shop, the fuel tanks are assessed by Quality Assurance (QA) and returned to the squadron.

A Request for Engineering Instructions (REI) is submitted for extensively damaged fuel tanks to determine repair status or if the units should be scrapped.

Mounted under the wing, the current Super Hornet tank holds about 480 gallons of fuel. The latest variant of the aircraft, the Block III Super Hornet manufactured by Boeing, has shoulder-mounted conformal fuel tanks that can carry 3,500 pounds of additional fuel. Location of the tanks reduces drag on the aircraft, enabling greater speed and flight time.

Operational versions of the Block III jets are scheduled for delivery to the Navy next year.

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