The US Air Force is accelerating its drive to certificate its entire fleet to run on fuels from the Fischer-Tropsch process by 2011 by starting simultaneous tests this month on three airframes, the Boeing F-15, Lockheed Martin F-22 and Boeing KC-135.
Previously just one aircraft has been tested at a time. Most recently, the Rockwell B-1 and its General Electric F101 engines performed flawlessly in ground and flight tests using afterburners at Arnold AFB in Tennessee, according to the air force, which expects to certificate the aircraft for synthetic fuel soon. The Boeing B-52H and C-17 were last year the first to be certificated to run on the fuel.
The USAF intends to meet half of its domestic fuel needs with synthetics by 2016. To accelerate commercial production and the massive capital investments needed for scale, the underused Malmstrom AFB in Montana will be the site of a new large-scale production facility to be run by a private contractor.