Since its inception 65 years ago, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) has grown to become the largest and most technologically advanced aerial warfare service branch in the world. It is also the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DoD) largest energy consumer, requiring more than 2 billion gallons of jet fuel at a cost of around $8 billion.
DoD, which accounts for 80 percent of our government’s energy use, calls energy efficiency a “force multiplier” that can increase the range and endurance of forces in the field and reduce the number of combat forces required to protect energy supply lines, all while saving on energy costs. And the chemistry industry is proud to support the Air Force with a wealth of technologies designed to improve energy and operational efficiency.
For example, plastics and other lightweight components, combined with unique fuel additives, enable our aircraft to stream more miles across the sky before having to refuel, which is important when traveling long distances in unfriendly territory.
Our industry is also honored to support the technology behind the Air Force’s other energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives, including increased use of solar and wind power.
Nellis Air Force Base in southern Nevada, for instance, built a 14-megawatt photovoltaic solar array that uses more than 72,000 solar panels to generate 30 million kilowatt-hours of electricity per year – equivalent to the total power used at the 12,000-person base.
So, happy birthday, Air Force! We look forward to many more years of innovation and enhancements to this prestigious military operation.