The Air Force probably will shift its alternative-fuels sights to the KC-135 tanker after it completes testing a 50-50 synthetic fuel blend on a B-52 bomber. Once the service is satisfied with the performance of the test-BUFF’s eight TF33 engines fueled by the synthetic mixture, the tanker’s CFM56 powerplant will come next, said Gen. Bruce Carlson, commander of Air Force Materiel Command. In a briefing for reporters at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando Friday, Carlson noted that the CFM56 also is used in a variety of other aircraft. However, even if the Air Force is successful in operating the synthetic-fueled B-52 in the harsh winter conditions at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, that doesn’t necessarily mean synthetic fuels are right for high-performance jet engines just yet, Carlson added. He said there are currently no plans to try out the new blends on fighters.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.