The Air Force plans to power its entire fleet of B-52 bombers with a synthetic fuel blend by year’s end, if the “detailed analysis” of recently completed testing, including extreme weather conditions at Minot AFB, N.D., and physical inspection of the test BUFF “prove out,” says Michael Aimone, USAF’s top civilian loggie. Aimone told Senators at a Finance Committee hearing Tuesday that preliminary inspections have found “no deleterious effects” from use of a synthetic blend jet fuel in the B-52, which has just returned from Minot to Edwards AFB, Calif. He expects to see a full test report this summer. The motivating factor in converting to synfuel, of course, is to reduce some of USAF’s staggering $7 billion annual energy bill. Aimone noted that fueling Air Force aircraft accounts for 80 percent of that bill. Next, the service may introduce synfuel for its tanker fleet.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.