Global Hawk Goes Alternative

An RQ-4 Global Hawk burning an alternative fuel blend completed a 32-hour flight test from Edwards AFB, Calif., becoming the first USAF remotely piloted aircraft to run on this new fuel mixture. Initial data indicate that the high-flying Global Hawk should have no significant issues utilizing this blend in actual operations, according to Edwards officials. The RQ-4 Block 20 air vehicle carried a 50-50 blend of traditional JP-8 aviation fuel and 50 percent synthetic paraffinic kerosene during the Nov. 22-23 flight. SPK is derived from materials like natural gas or coal. For this test, one half of the SPK portion came from coal; the other half came from natural gas. The Global Hawk is one of the final USAF platforms that officials are certifying to run on this JP-8-SPK blend. Another evaluation flight is scheduled in the coming weeks. (Edwards report by Kenji Thuloweit)