While the services are being pretty tight lipped about their plans to achieve the billions in efficiency savings mandated by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, last week Air Force Lt. Gen. Philip Breedlove gave a hint of one proposal the air service may have on the table; fuel savings.
Yes, this seems like a no-brainer, especially since the Air Force has long said it needs to trim its gas consumption, but it's how the service might do this that is interesting. "Is four-hours of reserve fuel on a C-17" really necessary, Breedlove, who is in charge of Air Force plans, operations and requirements, asked during a breakfast with reporters in Washington.
Instead of four hours of extra fuel, maybe the jets should fly with a two-hour reserve over the continental U.S. and a three-hour reserve over international airspace, he suggested.
The Air Force is the largest energy buyer in the federal government, spending almost $7 billion a year on fuel, and has long been looking at ways to trim its massive energy costs, from flying more direct routes to flirting with the notion of buying subsidized-coal-based jet fuel.
It's already increasing the use of simulators to offset the cost training missions, is experimenting with algae based-jet fuel (along with the Navy)and plans to cut its energy costs in half by the middle of the next decade.
Still, trimming reserve fuel requirements is likely to raise eyebrows with some folks who have safety concerns.
-- John Reed