The Navy will, according to President Obama’s speech on April 1, demonstrate the ‘Green Hornet,’ an F/A-18 Super Hornet powered by a 50/50 biofuel blend, on Earth Day, April 22, as part of its Energy Strategy. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus has made energy independence a top priority for the Department of the Navy (DoN), and the ‘Green Hornet’ flight is an important step in the certification and ultimate operational use of biofuels by the Navy and Marine Corps.
The ‘Green Hornet’ initiative supports Mabus’ energy reform targets, which will increase warfighting capability by reducing reliance on fossil fuels from unstable locations and reducing volatility associated with long fuel supply transport lines. The secretary’s energy reform targets include, by 2016, the Navy will sail a “Great Green Fleet” composed of nuclear ships, surface combatants with hybrid electric power systems using biofuel and aircraft flying on only biofuels. Also includes, by 2020, at least half of the DoN’s shore-based energy requirements will come from alternative sources and half of total DoN energy consumption will come from alternative sources.
“[The flight] will demonstrate that our systems can work on biofuel,” Mabus said in his remarks at a recent energy forum at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab in Laurel, Md. “After it is successful, and we are absolutely confident that it will be; we will move to expand biofuel testing to our marine gas turbine engines and to the engines of our tactical vehicles.”
The biofuel blend to be used in the Super Hornet is derived from the camelina sativa plant, which is a U.S.-grown, renewable, non-food source. The objective of the Navy’s biofuel test flight program is to confirm there is no difference in performance between the biofuel blend derived from the camelina plant and standard petroleum-based JP-5. The Navy’s ultimate goal is to develop protocols to certify alternative fuels for use in Naval Tactical systems.