ARLINGTON, Va. --- Thanks to an optimization initiative led by Air Force Operational Energy (SAF/IEN), F-35 Lightning II and F-22 Raptor fighter sorties are now requested to fly closer to the fighters' maximum range airspeed, while still within tanker boom limits, during Coronet missions. The faster speed decreases overall fuel consumption, while saving precious flight hours.
In August 2017, Air Force Operational Energy conducted a proof-of-concept demonstration to show that increased speeds during this type of aircraft redeployment decrease fuel consumption. One cell of F-22s and an accompanying tanker for refueling, flew at a higher airspeed, while the other cell flew the standard profile and acted as a control group.
Throughout the five-hour flight, researchers collected multiple data points in order to compare results from both cells. The faster cell was able to cut about 10 percent off the total flight time and 6 percent of the fuel required for this type of aircraft redeployment.
The faster speed parameters are within the Aerial Refueling Flight Envelope for the F-35 and F-22, as well as the KC-135 Stratotanker and the KC-10 Extender.