September 3, 2008 (by SrA Julius Delos Reyes) - The F-22 Combined Test Force reached another milestone as an Edwards F-22 Raptor performed aerial refueling using a synthetic fuel. The first time an Air Force aircraft refueled mid-air using an alternative jet engine fuel.
USAF F-22A block 10 no. 91-4008 from the 411th FLTS receives synthetic fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker during an aerial refueling test using an alternative jet engine fuel on August 28th, 2008. [LM photo by Kevin Robertson]
The test was the culmination of Edwards test points in certifying the F-22's use of the fuel -- a 50/50 mix of JP-8 jet fuel and a natural gas-based fuel.
"Our goal was to complete the test plan and to support the certification," said Maj. Drew Allen, 411 FLTS Chief of Standardization and Evaluation and also the test pilot. "We wanted to prove that there was no negative effect in performing the aerial refueling using the synthetic fuel."
To prove this, a KC-135 Stratotanker from March Air Reserve Base, Calif., dispensed the fuel to the F-22 through a standard refueling process.
"No modification or changes were made to either aircraft," said Major Allen. "We just wanted to prove that there is no adverse effect in dispensing the fuel."
First Lt. Paul Mantegna, 411th FLTS propulsion engineer, said the F-22 Combined Test Force, in conjunction with Air Force Research Laboratory, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Pratt and Whitney, and Honeywell, has been preparing for the testing.
"We've been in works for a couple of months now doing ground and auxiliary power unit runs to make sure all the aircraft's subsystems can run without complications," Lieutenant Mantegna said.
The test was done as part of the Secretary of the Air Force's initiative to certify the entire fleet on synthetic fuel, an effort to lessen dependence on foreign oil.