5 wins for Operational Energy in 2017

  • Published
  • By Corrie Poland
  • Air Force Operational Energy (SAF/IEN)


2017 was a great year for Air Force Operational Energy! We strive to create an energy-optimized Air Force through innovative technology, data, and streamlined processes. This doesn’t mean just saving fuel, but also increasing our combat capability, enabling more training time for Airmen, and reducing wear-and-tear on aircraft.

Read on to learn about some of our favorite accomplishments in 2017 and the cool ways we’re innovating Air Force Energy.


The concept of flying at a faster speed to save fuel, while also cutting flight hours, was first discovered by the 618th Air Operations Center in 2014, but it still needed to be proven in action. To demonstrate the concept, six F-22 Raptors accompanied by two aerial refueling KC-10 Extenders, flew in two separate groups from Alaska to Hawaii. One group flew at a faster speed, while the other group acted as a ‘control’ and flew at the standard speed. After researchers from our Operational Energy team analyzed the data collected from each flight, they determined that the faster group cut about six percent of the fuel required for this type of aircraft re-deployment, while also cutting total flight time by ten percent. Read the full story here.   

Prior to 2017, Airmen were using a whiteboard and markers to manually plan the complicated and ever-changing mission of aerial refueling.  Thanks to our partners at Defense Innovation Unit experimental (DIUx), an innovative software called “JIGSAW” was developed to streamline aerial refueling planning. Now, planners are able to match tankers to receiving aircraft through the software, saving planners hours of time and reducing fuel consumption. We continue to work with DIUx to improve the software and further increase efficiencies. Read the full story here and stay tuned for updates in 2018! 



Prior to the upgrade at Claiborne Range, aircraft from Barksdale Air Force Base had to travel to distant ranges to complete training requirements. With a relatively simple upgrade, Claiborne now has communications equipment compatible with more aircraft. Instead of spending time traveling to a distant range, Airmen can increase training time by using Claiborne range.




Aviation analysts from our Energy Analysis Task Force met with C-5 Galaxy maintainers and pilots from all over the country to determine operational energy efficiency best practices. They’ve looked at things like the amount of fuel carried, how many engines used when taxiing, and mission planning practices. By speaking with Airmen directly and openly, we can better understand where we are doing well and where we may have efficiency gaps. In 2018, we will focus on the C-17 Globemaster III operations.


Finally, we established the Award for Excellence in Operational Energy Research and Innovation through Air University, which will be awarded to the student who conducted the most promising research on operational energy efficiency.


We believe there are many undiscovered (as well as proven) ways to optimize operational energy consumption in the Air Force. Our goal is not to cut flight hours, but to discover ways to optimize our fuel use through innovative ideas from Airmen, research, streamlined processes, and technology.

The mission of Air Force Operational Energy is to break barriers by connecting Airmen with technology, data, and innovative thinking to develop and champion energy-informed solutions across the Air Force. For more information and news visit: www.safie.hq.af.mil/OpEnergy/, www.Twitter.com/AFEnergy, and www.Facebook.com/AirForceEnergy.