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The F-22 Raptor goes green

An F-22 Raptor successfully flew at supercruise March 18 on a 50/50 fuel blend of conventional petroleum-based JP-8 and biofuel derived from camelina, a weed-like plant not used for food. The flight was the capstone of a series of ground and flight test events conducted by members of the 411th Flight Test Squadron here the week of March 14 for the Raptor, using the biofuel blend. The Air Force selected the F-22 weapons system to be the biofuel blend flight test pathfinder for all fighter aircraft.

The overall test objective was to evaluate biofuel fuel blend suitability in the F-22 weapons system, officials said. Testing consisted of air starts, operability, and performance at different speeds and altitudes throughout the flight envelope.

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The F-22 Raptor performed several maneuvers including a supercruise at 40,000 ft., reaching speeds of 1.5 Mach. Supercruise is supersonic flight without using the engine’s afterburner. Officials said the overall flight was a success and another milestone completed for the Alternative Fuels Certification Division in support the Air Force’s 2016 acquisition goal to cost-competitively acquire 50 percent of the domestic aviation fuel requirement via alternative fuel blends in which the component is derived from domestic sources produced in a manner that is ‘greener’ than fuels produced from conventional petroleum.

The camelina-derived synthetic fuel falls into a class of hydroprocessed blended biofuels known as hydrotreated renewable jet fuels, or HRJs. The HRJ fuel can be derived from a variety of plant oil and animal fat feedstocks.

Air Force officials in February certified the entire C-17 Globemaster III fleet for unrestricted flight operations using the HRJ biofuel blend.



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