reply to post by sarra1833
Ok, now that I'm on my laptop quick lesson in refueling.
There are two primary tanker aircraft used by the US military (the US Navy has the ability to put strap on refueling pods onto aircraft that can be
used to refuel, but that's for later), the KC-135
There are two schools of thought on in flight refueling, the boom method, and the probe and drogue method. The US Air Force is one of the few that
uses the boom method of refueling. This
is the boom in the stowed position. The
boom method of refueling has the advantage of being able to transfer a lot of fuel in a relatively short period of time. Aircraft such as the B-52,
or C-5 can require over 150,000 pounds of fuel in a refueling (approximately 22,000 gallons of fuel). The boom allows for several thousand pounds of
fuel per minute, as opposed to a slower transfer rate through the probe and drogue method.
view of the boom stowed. The first bump that sticks down, on the right
edge of the picture is where the boom operator
lays (he sits up in the KC-10 and lays down in the KC-135), and steers the boom to the receivers receptacle.
There are several different locations of receptacles on the receptacle on the receiver aircraft. On fighters, it's usually right near the canopy,
and requires the boom to go very close to the pilots head. On heavy aircraft it can be in front of the windscreen, or it can be behind the cockpit
area on top of the fuselage.
Probe and drogue refueling is similar, but instead of steering the boom to a receptacle, the boom is extended behind the tanker aircraft (in the case
of the KC-135) or the drogue is extended (KC-10) and the pilot of the receiver (Navy, Marine, most NATO aircraft) steers a probe into the "basket"
of the drogue. The RAF use this method for large aircraft, but the US only use it on fighters.
With the KC-135, there is a
that attaches to the end of the boom, which means that only one method can be used at a time. Some KC-135s also have
that attach to the wingtip that have drogues in them and allow for
refueling two aircraft at once.
The KC-10 has a drogue that is permanently installed under the
(the white to the right of the boom). This allows them to refuel with the boom, or the drogue on the same mission. Some KC-10s also have
pods that can be attached to the wingtips like the KC-135 pods.
The US Navy also have what's called a "buddy pod"
, that can be
attached to either the F/A-18 Hornet, or the EA-6B Prowler, and can transfer fuel from the plane carrying it, to the receiver. It's also the probe
and drogue system, where it extends the basket behind the pod and aircraft, and the receiver plugs into it. These are used near the carrier, in case
a returning aircraft needs fuel before it can land, or can't land and needs fuel to keep trying, or to fly to a land base.
And that's in flight refueling in a nutshell.