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The Department of the Air Force released its Climate Action Plan Oct. 4, which defines how it will preserve operational capability, increase resiliency, and do its part to help mitigate future climate impacts through specific and measurable objectives and key results. It lays out its enterprise-wide approach to ensuring policies, technology innovation, and evolving operations remain relevant in a changing climate.
In recognition of Energy Action Month, the Department of the Air Force is showcasing energy’s essential role in assuring combat capability and readiness and the importance of developing energy solutions that bolster resilience in the face of climate change.
This year, the DAF launched a new three-year theme, “Powering Possibility,” which highlights the Department’s forward-looking approach to energy innovation and powering the future force. Complex challenges including a competitive operating environment, accelerating climate change, adversarial cyber threats, and a changing geopolitical landscape all threaten critical DAF infrastructure, energy, and power supplies. As such, the DAF must be proactive in exploring the possible to find safe, reliable, and efficient energy solutions that bolster our ability to fight and win in a changing world.
Flight managers from the 618th Air Operations Center, or Tanker Airlift Control Center, at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, are now able to participate in ‘ride-along’ flights on mobility aircraft to observe firsthand how pilots and aircrew conduct operations in the sky.
The program’s goal is to create a feedback loop and a shared perspective to help improve collaboration between flight managers and aircrew, while also streamlining operations and improving mission effectiveness.
In partnership with Air Mobility Command, Air Force Research Laboratory, and Air Force Operational Energy, Airmen are conducting operational testing on prototypes of the Vertical Pallet Stacker for multiple mobility aircraft to enable more optimized and effective cargo-loading and transport per pound of fuel used.
Originally developed by the now-defunct Air Expeditionary Force Battlelab at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, and currently managed by the Air Force Research Laboratory, the Vertical Pallet Stacker (previously known as the Bi-Level Airlift Loading System) significantly increases the amount of cargo a mobility aircraft can move at one time.
Designed and certified for C-17 Globemaster III, C-5 Galaxy, and C-130 Hercules use, the VPS is an aluminum frame that provides a second level of storage on top of a standard cargo pallet, enabling up to 3,000 pounds of cargo per pallet space to be placed on the top pallet.
2021 proved to be a pivotal year for Air Force Operational Energy as programs received unprecedented support – enabling many long-hoped-for initiatives to get the greenlight and progress to the next stage of development.
“A tremendous amount of effort has led up to this year when we were able to secure funding for operational energy efficiency programs vital to the future of the Air Force,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary of Air Force Operational Energy, Roberto Guerrero. “These initiatives make a lot of sense. They improve our capability, reduce our costs, mitigate our fuel logistics supply risks, and increase readiness and lethality. They also support the administration's focus on climate,” he continued. “We hope this spurs even more interest in optimizing the Air Force through operational energy initiatives.”
As part of its effort to streamline operations and increase aircraft range and capability, the Department of the Air Force launched the pilot Mission Execution Excellence Program to incentivize optimized flying on aircraft that consume the most fuel across the enterprise.
MEEP will encourage Airmen to increase their use of efficient flying ‘best practices,’ which will not impact their mission and training requirements, through direct and indirect incentives.
The pilot phase will focus primarily on C-17 Globemaster III aircraft, the largest Air Force fuel consumers, at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, and Travis Air Force Base, California, and will be active now through December 2022. MEEP will mainly work with pilots and operations planners, as well as maintainers and logisticians, and will leverage Airman innovation to integrate improved techniques and best practices into their day-to-day operations.