The U.S. Air Force has reduced its fuel consumption by 12 percent since 2006, three years ahead of schedule, the service announced Thursday.
The announcement came as the Air Force unveiled its new “Energy Strategic Plan,” a roadmap for future energy consumption reductions in the service.
Jamie Morin, acting undersecretary of the Air Force, said on a conference call that the fuel reduction showed the military does not need to compromise when it comes to reducing consumption.
“We will not accept the notion that one has to choose between energy efficiency and mission accomplishment,” Morin said. “They can be complementary and reinforce the goals.”
Although the 12 percent reduction is impressive, Morin noted that looking at fuel reduction in simple terms is not as useful in the post-sequestration world, when the service will be flying less than it was in 2006. While usage continue to go down, it won’t be for the right reasons. In that situation, “we’re not energy-efficient, we’re just using less energy,” Morin said, adding that the service will look to focus more on energy efficiency as a whole.”
But the Air Force has increased efficiencies overall, especially with the mobility fleet that is the largest consumer of fuel. As one example, Morin singled out modernization efforts that have replaced older C-5s with newer, cleaner models. Upgrading the C-5 fleet has led to a 3 percent efficiency rate in fuel per hour, according to Kevin Geiss, deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for Energy.
The service has also incorporated commercial best practices into the mobility fleet, such as carrying less excess fuel and supplies that could be stationed on the ground and using computers to make quick calculations during flight that lead to optimized routes for travel.
Those ideas are featured as part of the report, which lays out four fuel-related goals for the Air Force: improving resiliency, reducing demand, assuring supply and fostering an “energy aware” culture.
“By reducing our energy consumption and increasing our use of renewable energy, we improve our energy security and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in support of U.S. climate policy initiatives,” reads the report, in echoes of statements from the Obama administration that climate change and fuel consumption pose a threat to national security.
“Energy is becoming a larger share of the Air Force budget, going from 3 percent of the total Air Force budget in 2003 to over 8 percent in 2011, and it is becoming more difficult for the Air Force to forecast and plan for the rise in energy costs,” the report reads. “With the austere fiscal environment facing the Air Force and the nation, energy can pose a financial risk to the Air Force’s ability to plan, develop, and acquire the technologies and equipment necessary to sustain air, space, and cyberspace superiority.”