For some time now, the adoption of biofuels in aviation as an alternative to pricey fossil fuels has been on the minds of the various branches of the United States Armed Forces. Each branch has their own plan when it comes to adopting biofuels and each has been testing them out over the years. Last year, the U.S. Air Force flew an A-10 Warthog entirely under the power of biofuels and the U.S. Navy has done testing with a biofuel mixture on board the F/A-18 Super Hornet. Most recently, the Air Force announced the success of a partially biofuel powered flight of the F-22 Raptor.
The flight, which took place last Friday at Edwards Air Force Base in California, was a part of the Air Force’s overall goal to determine the effectiveness of biofuels based on camelina. The formula itself is derived from the weed like plant and is meant to be blended in with standard petroleum based jet fuels in order to reduce the overall cost of fuel. While it is not necessarily the jump to fully adopting biofuels that some are looking for, it is a step forward in the Air Force’s plan, which is shared by other branches of the Armed Services, to reduce their overall carbon footprint in coming years.
According to the 411th Flight Test Squadron, the successful test involved a variety of exercises to determine the functionality of the blend. The test involved a variety of take off procedures on the ground as well as several in-air maneuvers that culminated in the Raptor flying at Mach 1.5 at 40,000 feet without the use of afterburners in what is referred to as a supercruise.
The Air Force is intending to use the results found in the F-22 as a template for use in other fighter craft in the future. With each new success, the military comes closer and closer to finding new ways to achieve their goal of reducing their carbon footprint and fuel costs.
Article by Richard Cooke, appearing courtesy Justmeans.