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 the 411th Flight Test Squadron at Edwards Air Force Base the week of March 14 for the Raptor using the biofuel blend. The Air Force selected the F-22 weapon 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 weapon system. Testing consisted of air starts, operability, and performance at different speeds and altitude throughout the flight envelope. 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.
"The F-22 flew on Friday, March 18 and performed flawlessly on the biofuel blend citing no noticeable differences from traditional JP-8," said Jeff Braun, director of the Alternative Fuels Certification Division, part of the Aeronautical Systems Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
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 hydro-processed 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.