The Air Force last week began flight testing at Eglin AFB, Fla., with a new type of alternative fuel blend derived in part from alcohol. Eglin’s 40th Flight Test Squadron commenced the flights on June 28 with an A-10 aircraft. “It flew like a usual A-10 would without any issues,” said Maj. Olivia Elliott, an A-10 pilot and an evaluator for the mission, in Eglin’s July 2 release. The new fuel type, known as alcohol-to-jet, is derived from the fermented sugars extracted from materials like wood, paper, or grass. ATJ is mixed with standard petroleum-derived JP-8 aviation fuel to create the blend. The ATJ blend is the third alternative fuel type that the Air Force is evaluating as a means of reducing dependence on foreign sources of energy. Already, the service has fully certified a blend of JP-8 and synthetic paraffinic kerosene, derived from coal and natural gas, for operational use across the fleet, according to Eglin’s release. Further, testing has concluded with a JP-8-hydroprocessed renewable jet blend and work continues on its fleet-wide certification. HRJ is derived from plant oils and animal fats. (Eglin report by Minty Knighton)
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.