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. It seems the DoD just ordered a bunch of rotten F35 tomatoes. Are they joking? In fighting wars, there is no room for such silly weapon – on a hot day, the airforce is grounded automatically.

  2. The Australians will base a squadron of these at RAAF Tindal … It gets extremely hot there so that will be interesting.

  3. F-18C/E, and Harriers also have fuel temperature regulations from similar issues along with other aircraft in our and our allies inventory, back in the 80s they were painted yellow for the same reason. A bit of a non issue except in a .1% condition. It seems people really like to make mountain out of a molehill when talking about the F-35, while forgetting about every other plane in the US inventory.

    Perhaps the reasons for these regulations is because at ground idle for long periods of time will naturally heat up the fuel to unhealthy temperatures.

  4. Mountain out of a mole hill. I have a family member that is a Navy test pilot, and read in on almost all aspects of it. While he hasn’t flown it, he has flown the F-22 and almost everything else in the US inventory, including a MiG-15 (haha) and some other foreign designs.

    I asked him how big of an issue this is and he responded with “I barely even knew about it, it’s nowhere near the massive issue that people would think.”

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