TAMPA (FOX 13) - One of MacDill's KC-135 Stratotankers can carry 18,000 gallons of fuel into the sky, but the mission of mid-air refueling can't happen without what's happening now on the ground.
It's a painstaking, $4 million facelift for a fuel pipeline; a critical part of MacDill's missions.
"That pipeline is the lifeblood for us," says Sgt Andrew Roper, who supervises fueling operations.
The base stores more than 2 million gallons of fuel in tanks, but salty air takes a toll on the steel pipe. Now contractors are sandblasting and recoating the 10-inch pipe to protect it from the elements and help guard against rupture.
More than 22,000 feet of pipe is getting the new coating. But engineers say this process is just part of a long-term commitment to keep things running smoothly.
"There is always something to do," says base engineer Robert Moore. "The Department of Defense has put a lot of new facilities here at MacDill."
This project keeps the fuel flowing through a pipeline that ultimately leads to the sky.