The US Air Force plans make the first supersonic flight on synthetic jet fuel this week, using a Rockwell B-1B bomber powered by General Electric F101 afterburning engines.

The flight will be another milestone in USAF plans to certify its entire inventory of aircraft to use a 50:50 blend of synthetic and conventional jet fuel by early 2011.

A B-1B Lancer based at Dyess AFB in Texas will make the supersonic demonstration flight. The USAF has already certified the Boeing B-52 bomber and C-17 airlifter to fly on synthetic fuel.

B-1 afterburner
                                                                                               © US Air Force

The B-52 flew with the blended fuel in two engines in September 2006, and all eight engines in December that year. The C-17 completed the first transcontinental flight on blended fuel in December 2007.

Demonstration flights are using a gas-to-liquid synthetic fuel provided by Shell and produced in Malaysia, but the USAF plans to meet half its domestic requirements with US-produced coal-to-liquid synthetic fuel by 2016.