An RQ-4 Global Hawk burning an alternative fuel blend completed a 32-hour flight test from Edwards AFB, Calif., becoming the first USAF remotely piloted aircraft to run on this new fuel mixture. Initial data indicate that the high-flying Global Hawk should have no significant issues utilizing this blend in actual operations, according to Edwards officials. The RQ-4 Block 20 air vehicle carried a 50-50 blend of traditional JP-8 aviation fuel and 50 percent synthetic paraffinic kerosene during the Nov. 22-23 flight. SPK is derived from materials like natural gas or coal. For this test, one half of the SPK portion came from coal; the other half came from natural gas. The Global Hawk is one of the final USAF platforms that officials are certifying to run on this JP-8-SPK blend. Another evaluation flight is scheduled in the coming weeks. (Edwards report by Kenji Thuloweit)
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.