First Synthetic Fuel Transfer

The Air Force made history over the skies of Edwards AFB, Calif., on Aug. 28 when a KC-135R tanker from March ARB, Calif., that was running solely on a synthetic fuel mix twice refueled an Edwards F-22 fighter that was also operating with the same fuel blend. “No anomalies were observed and all operations were nominal,” said service spokeswoman Vicki Stein. The mission was a big step towards the service’s goal of certifying its entire fleet by around 2011 to operate on this fuel blend—which comprises 50 percent JP-8 fuel and 50 percent synthetic paraffinic kerosene—as a means of reducing US dependence on foreign sources of energy. SPK is derived today from natural gas, but can also be made from coal of which the US has an abundant supply. The Air Force already has certified the B-52H and C-17 to operate with the JP-8/SPK blend, and the B-1B and, most recently, the F-15 have flown with it. Prior to the Aug. 28 trial, both the KC-135R and F-22 underwent individual qualifications with the fuel mix, Stein said. (Includes Edwards photo caption)