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#3096 2008-08-23 06:02 GMT-5 hours    
August 21, 2008
Macon Telegraph

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. - History was made at Robins Air Force Base this week as an F-15 Eagle flew at more than twice the speed of sound using a blend of synthetic fuel.

The Aug. 19 flight was the world's first test of a high performance fighter aircraft powered by a 50-50 mix of traditional JP-8 jet fuel and a synthetic using natural gas as a source.

The Air Force already had tested the new blend on a C-17 cargo aircraft and B-52 and B-1 bombers. But Jeff Braun, director of the Air Force's Alternative Fuels Certification Office at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, conceded that fighter aircraft offered a much different challenge.

"They are much higher performance and a much more demanding environment," he said during a late afternoon interview.

Braun said the daylong process included a 50-minute ground test Tuesday morning that pushed the aircraft's engines from military power to full afterburner.

"That was just another risk reduction step to prove the aircraft was not leaking fuel and the engines were behaving nominally," he said.

The actual test flight came in the afternoon. "It was a full functional check flight of about 55 minutes," the engineer said, "reaching speeds of Mach 2.2." Mach 2.2 is approximately 1,450 mph.

Immediate feedback came from the pilots.

"We asked them point-blank if they noticed any difference in performance and they said it was a 'non-event,' " Braun reported. "In other words, they couldn't tell the difference. The aircraft behaved the same."

Additional testing was to continue Wednesday. "We'll have two more sorties then the Robins engineers will put their final analysis and reports together," he indicated. "Hopefully, they will grant us the certification to use the fuel operationally if need be."

The Warner Robins Air Logistics Center at Robins is responsible for worldwide sustainment and support for the Air Force's F-15 fleet, including overall engineering oversight for the air superiority weapon system.

Braun said his office will continue the testing process until all Air Force aircraft have been certified. The nation's newest fighter, the F-22, will be flown next week along with the KC-135 tanker.

"We've scheduled an aerial refueling demonstration Aug. 28 between both aircraft," he said. "Both will be flying on the synthetic blend and the KC-135 will be passing it to the F-22 in flight."

Next will come the C-5, C-130 and F-16. "We're doing our homework and analysis with every platform," Braun stressed. "We're trying to get them through the process as expeditiously and safely as possible. We want to prove that our fleet can use a different fuel so that we can encourage industry to develop alternative sources."

The Ohio-based director had high praise for the technical team at Robins. "They did a helluva job," he pointed out. "The test was very well thought out and very well run by the engineers, the maintenance team and the pilots flying the aircraft."

Source : Military.com

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#3099 2008-08-24 04:18 GMT-5 hours    
Cool, Good to see everything is working well.

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