The new series of Army and Air Force Exchange Service unleaded fuel coupons should be hitting local stores within the next two weeks, if not sooner.

Lt. Col. David A. Konop, an AAFES spokesman, said the coupons are expected to arrive at its distribution center in Giessen, Germany, some time this week.

“Once they get in our hands, we’re going to be getting them out,” Konop said.

Last month, AAFES extended the Sept. 30 expiration date for the current coupons to Nov. 30 after a delay with the new set.

“The new fuel coupons will be just like last year’s and have an expiration date,” said Konop, who added that the new diesel coupons are already in circulation. The delay with the new set, Konop said, was the result of planned changes to the fuel program that involve an eventual switch from coupons to plastic cards.

“There’s a lot of work that goes into this,” he said.

A fuel card, now in the testing phase, is scheduled to replace coupons for U.S. military customers in Germany next year. If the tests prove successful, the Army can present the results to the German government, which has the final say on whether the fuel card program is allowed to proceed.

Military officials hope to start issuing the prepaid fuel cards in phases in summer 2008.

In the meantime, the current, extended Nov. 30 expiration date will continue to apply for coupons purchased by AAFES customers in Germany and the Netherlands. In addition to AAFES fuel stations on military installations, Esso stations throughout Germany and Aral stations along highways will honor the old coupons. Esso stations in the Netherlands that currently accept coupons will continue to, as well.

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John covers U.S. military activities across Europe and Africa. Based in Stuttgart, Germany, he previously worked for newspapers in New Jersey, North Carolina and Maryland. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware.

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