Fuel Trucks for the F-35 Painted White to keep the Jet Fuel Cool (and prevent engine shutdowns)

Air Force fuel trucks repainted to keep temperature within the F-35’s threshold.

According to an Air Force press release, the F-35 jets may face another issue.

The problem is not related to the jet itself, but to the fuel trucks thermal management: the Lightning II has a fuel temperature threshold and may not function properly if the fuel is delivered to the aircraft at high temperature. Should the temperature of the  fuel get too high, the F-35 could face engine shutdowns.

Therefore trucks at Luke Air Force Base, in Arizona, where temperature can reach beyond 110° F (43° C) in summer months, were given a new look, by applying a two layer coating, dubbed “solar polyurethane enamel”, that will help prevent fuel stored in the tanks from over-heating.

However, the professionals providing the new coating of the trucks, said that the layer does not necessarily need to be white, since only the “reflective” coating is of white color. Additional green paint may be applied in order to add camouflage. Some of the Luke AFB specialists stated that this is still to be tested.

Nevertheless, the ground crew hope that the green color can be used again, keeping the temperatures down, since the white refueling trucks are visible at long distances.

fuel truck

White color is a definitely an intermediary-short term fix, mainly due to the tactical deficiencies it brings along. Long-term solutions?

The Air Force may change the composition of the fuel used by the Lightnings.

Another option is to refine the software used by the engine. Cost-wise, both these options are more expensive than re-painting the fuel trucks, which, as the Air Force claims, costs $3,900 per truck.

In the light of the more significant problems faced by the F-35 program, the fuel issue might just simply have been overlooked.

Nonetheless, as some analysts pointed out, it may add an overhead in terms of cost, management, procedures etc. meaning that the development of the F-35 would become a bit more expensive (and this would not be a good news).

Image credit: U.S. Air Force


About Jacek Siminski
Standing contributor for TheAviationist. Aviation photojournalist. Co-Founder of DefensePhoto.com. Expert in linguistics, Cold War discourse, Cold War history and policy and media communications.


  1. Hot wars are never fought, only on your own terms…

    Fragile fighter packages don’t win air wars either! (car manufacturers styled recalls mid shooting matches, is not an option)

  2. Yet another issue with this aircraft.

    I had a lot of faith in the F-35 program for awhile now, but lately I just think that we should cancel it. Instead of putting funds toward a already obsolete aircraft, we should move resources directly to a Sixth Generation Fighter.

    • The problem is with American design process and procurement processes. Going to a 6th generation fighter without changing the process will solve nothing. The problem is Lockheed is making a killing stumbling along with this fighter. The most realistic change would be to make Lockheed pay for performance shortfalls in the operational fighter, and for schedule slips. What really needs to happen is the primes need to be split. Take apart Lockheed, take apart Boeing. Split them into about 10 smaller companies. The start an A-10 replacement, or re-manufacture. Develop and deploy a drone with similar performance as the old A-1 Skyraider. Using existing engines, radar, and avionics from the F-22 and F-35 upgrade the F-15 and F-16. Issue a prize to anyone who can manufacture a F-22 for less than $80M per copy. Then contract Boeing to design a B-52 replacement using parts from their commercial airliners with an alert rate that matches Delta airlines.

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