B-52 undergoes synthetic-fuel cold weather testing

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A B-52 Stratofortess powered by a mix of synthetic fuel arrived here Jan. 17 for cold-weather testing, the last step in the testing and certification process to help reduce Air Force dependence on imported fuel.

The aircraft, permanently assigned to the 5th Bomb Wing here, will undergo ground testing Jan. 22 through the beginning of February to determine how well the synthetic fuel, made from a 50-50 blend of traditional crude oil-based fuel and a Fischer-Tropsch fuel derived from natural gas, performs in extreme weather conditions.

"The B-52 is leading the way in carrying out the Air Force's vision for conservation," said Col. Eldon Woodie, the 5th Bomb Wing commander. "Hopefully, the weather will allow us to complete cold-weather testing."

The first B-52 flight using Fischer-Tropsch fuel occurred Sept. 19 at Edwards AFB, Calif. It was an aviation first. Since then, the aircraft has been tested extensively -- up to the point of flying with synthetic fuel in all eight engines. Ground testing here will occur with synthetic fuel in all engines.

After testing here is done, the cold-weather data will be analyzed along with the data from Edwards AFB, and a complete test report is scheduled to be issued in June.

"The maintenance and aircraft support here at Minot have been outstanding," said Robert Aguilar, the project manager for cold-weather testing, who's here from California.

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