The Blue Angels' F/A-18 Hornet aircraft are using a biofuel blend during their performances at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., Air Expo held tomorrow through Sept. 4.
The Blue Angels' Labor Day weekend performance is another demonstration of the Department of the Navy's commitment to reducing fossil fuel use without compromising capability. All six Hornets will be powered by a 50/50 blend of conventional JP-5 jet fuel and a camelina-based biofuel.
Camelina sativa is a member of the mustard plant family. Camelina plants grow from 1 to 3 feet tall, producing pods with many small, oily seeds inside.
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said the Navy and Marine Corps' use of alternative energy sources addresses critical vulnerabilities and ultimately serves to improve America's warfighting capability, while also increasing the nation's energy efficiency.
"Changing the kinds of fuels we use and the way we use them is critical to assuring the Navy and Marine Corps remain the most formidable expeditionary fighting force the world has ever known," Mabus said. "The Department of the Navy will be taking another visible step toward testing biofuel in our aircraft when all six of the Blue Angels perform using the same 50/50 blend of drop-in biofuel we've used in so many of our other aircraft."
The Paxtuxent air show will be "the first time an entire unit has flown on a biofuel mix," Mabus added.
The Blue Angels travel the country demonstrating the capabilities of the Navy and Marine Corps using aerial combat maneuvers.
"As public representatives of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, the Blue Angels take pride in leading the country's efforts to reduce fossil fuel consumption and increase our energy security," said Navy Capt. Greg McWherter, the Blue Angels' commanding officer and flight leader.
One objective in using alternative energy sources is to ensure there is no difference in performance between the biofuel blend and standard petroleum-based JP-5. McWherter, who flew a legacy F/A-18 test flight Aug. 17, said there were no noticeable differences from the cockpit.
The Labor Day performance is the ultimate demonstration to date of the Department of the Navy's commitment to reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil, as well as safeguarding the nation's environment through the incorporation of cleaner, more sustainable and renewable energy sources.
This initiative is one of many throughout the Navy and Marine Corps that will enable the Department of the Navy to achieve Mabus' goals to improve energy security and efficiency afloat and ashore, increase energy independence, and help lead the nation toward a clean energy economy.
By Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Johnson
Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron
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