The Royal Air Force has used sustainable aviation fuel blended with regular jet fuel to achieve the first sustainable aviation fuel blend air-to-air refuelling of a Typhoon and C-130 Hercules aircraft.
A RAF Voyager delivered the fuel to the Typhoon and Hercules. The Voyager was previously used in successful initial trials in November 2022 where it flew on 100% sustainable aviation fuel. The leftover fuel from the Voyager trial was mixed with regular fuel at around 46-48%. The RAF worked with Air BP to re-certify the fuel and achieve the required standards needed for a safe and effective mission.
This is another key achievement in the Royal Air Force’s remarkable progress to increase their use of sustainable fuel. With potential benefits for the environment and operational resilience, this important work alongside expert defence industry and scientific teams in the UK is crucial for the RAF’s future resilience.
Sustainable Aviation Fuel – which is made from waste-based sustainable feedstocks, such as used cooking oil – reduces lifecycle carbon emissions on average by up to 80% compared to conventional jet fuel, in time, increased use of sustainable aviation fuel should lessen the RAF’s reliance on global supply chains and fossil fuels and so improve operational resilience.
Different approaches to reducing carbon emissions will suit different platforms and environments. As such, a range of alternative fuel options are being looked at to ensure the UK is at the forefront of all developing technology.
We have learnt a great deal during this trial and now have confidence in our ability to use blends of Sustainable Aviation Fuel now and in the future. The trial proved there is no detriment to performance as we strive towards reduced emissions targets.
This was a first for both Typhoon and the Hercules and we believe that we are the first Air Force to conduct an Air-to-Air refuel operation with a sustainable aviation fuel bend at this level (46-48%). We are hugely grateful to Air BP for their expertise in assisting us with the re-manufacture and re-certification process to enable this successful result.
Squadron Leader Evans
RAF Supply Project Manager
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