Thunderbirds Going Alternative

The Air Force Thunderbirds will become the Defense Department’s first air demonstration team to use an alterative fuel blend during a performance. Thunderbird No. 5 and No. 6 will run on a mix of half traditional JP-8 fuel and half hydrotreated renewable jet fuel when the team wows the crowd on Friday and Saturday at the Joint Services Open House at JB Andrews, Md. The HRJ in this mix is derived from the seeds of the camelina plant, but other forms of biomass like beef tallow can also be the source. To date, the Air Force has tested and certified the A-10, C-17, F-15, and F-22 to operate on the JP-8-HRJ blend. Fleet-wide certification is on track for completion in 2013, say Air Force officials. “Over the past five years, the Air Force has certified more than 99 percent of its aircraft to operate on various blends of synthetic and traditional fuels, and we are moving ahead in certifying biofuels as well,” said Undersecretary Erin Conaton during an Air Force Association-sponsored speech May 11 in Arlington, Va. (Andrews release) (Conaton transcript)