18 Facts About Aerial refueling


Aerial refueling, referred to as air refueling, in-flight refueling, air-to-air refueling, and tanking, is the process of transferring aviation fuel from one military aircraft to another during flight.

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Aerial refueling has been considered as a means to reduce fuel consumption on long-distance flights greater than 3,000 nautical miles.

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Some earliest experiments in aerial refueling took place in the 1920s; two slow-flying aircraft flew in formation, with a hose run down from a hand-held fuel tank on one aircraft and placed into the usual fuel filler of the other.

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Similar trial demonstrations of mid-air Aerial refueling technique took place at the Royal Aircraft Establishment in England and by the Armee de l'Air in France in the same year, but these early experiments were not yet regarded as a practical proposition, and were generally dismissed as stunts.

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One such enthusiast, who would revolutionize aerial refueling was Sir Alan Cobham, member of the Royal Flying Corps in World War I, and a pioneer of long-distance aviation.

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Aerial refueling remained a very dangerous process until 1935, when brothers Fred and Al Key demonstrated a spill-free refueling nozzle, designed by AD Hunter.

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Sir Alan Cobham's grappled-line looped-hose air-to-air Aerial refueling system borrowed from techniques patented by David Nicolson and John Lord, and was publicly demonstrated for the first time in 1935.

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Two dedicated air Aerial refueling units were formed on June 30,1948: the 43d Air Refueling Squadron at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, and the 509th Air Refueling Squadron at Walker Air Force Base, New Mexico.

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Probe-and-drogue Aerial refueling method employs a flexible hose that trails from the tanker aircraft.

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USAF KC-135 and French Air Force KC-135FR Aerial refueling-boom equipped tankers can be field converted to a probe-and-drogue system using a special adapter unit.

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Some historic systems used for pioneering aerial refueling used the grappling method, where the tanker aircraft unreeled the fuel hose and the receiver aircraft would grapple the hose midair, reel it in and connect it so that fuel can be transferred either with the assistance of pumps or simply by gravity feed.

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The potential cost of converting F-35As to probe-and-drogue Aerial refueling added to the early-2010s political controversy which surrounded F-35 procurement within the RCAF.

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Primarily, aerial refueling adds to the combat radius of attack, fighter and bombers aircraft, and allows patrol aircraft to remain airborne longer, thereby reducing the numbers of aircraft necessary to accomplish a given mission.

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Aerial refueling can mitigate basing issues that might otherwise place limitations on combat payload.

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Aerial refueling eliminates many of these basing difficulties because a combat aircraft can take off with a full combat payload and refuel immediately.

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Mirage IVAs often operated in pairs, with one aircraft carrying a weapon and the other carrying fuel tanks and a buddy Aerial refueling pack, allowing it to refuel its partner en route to the target.

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However, the Mirage IIIs and Daggers lack of air Aerial refueling capability prevented them from achieving better results.

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Helicopter in-flight refueling is a variation of aerial refueling when a naval helicopter approaches a warship and receives fuel through the cabin while hovering.

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