AIR TO AIR REFUELLING PROCEDURES
With the addition of the KC-10 extender and the ability to conduct in-flight refuelling to Infinite Flight I have put together this brief guide on the procedures and tactics employed in AAR. This is only scratching the surface on the procedures which are very in-depth and complicated by the very nature of the evolution. This process is one of the things that really sparked my interest in Flight sims in general and IF specifically as it is closely related to my day job operating Oil Tankers at sea and having been involved with the Royal Navy Reserve undertaking RAS Operations (Refuelling At Sea) and also having read the book “Vulcan 607” which describes in great detail the AAR operation during the Falklands Conflict, very much worth a read!
The information contained below is a combination of sources, however in the main from an unclassified RAF Document ATP-56(B).
- TYPES OF REFUELING
Force Extension in Transit
In short this is where a Tanker fly’s in company with other aircraft which has a shorter endurance to refuel them or top them up in flight. The Tanker may fly all or some of the entire route with the aircraft they are escorting. This is often done when fighters are transiting from one theatre to another and don’t have the ferry tank space available to complete the entire flight in one go. In this occasion the Fighter Squadrons maintenance teams and various stores may also be carried on the tanker in their transport capacity. The Tankers flight may commence and complete at different AFB’s.
Anchor Point and Tanker Lane
This is where a tanker will orbit a particular location, using a Waypoint as an anchor point and when joined by an aircraft for refuelling will then proceed along a dedicated Tanker Lane for the refuelling operation. In this set up the tanker will most likely return to their home base on completion of operations. There are various different ways of arranging an RVP.
USA Refuelling Tracks and Anchors Source: milaircomms.com
This map shows the location of refuelling tracks and anchors in the United States. Tracks are point to point and anchors are enclosed areas where the tanker orbits
UK Refuelling Tracks and Anchors Source : UK Military Airspace Guide / fightercontrol.co.uk
- PROCEDURES ON JOINING
Key Areas around a Boom Tanker
Receivers arrive from tanker’s left side, unless the lead tanker directs otherwise, and form up in the observation position. The observation position is behind the wingline of the tanker. To ensure safe operations only one aircraft at a time is to be changing formation position; all other aircraft should remain steady in the formation position allocated by the tanker.
The standard signal given by the boom operator to clear the receiver to the astern position is lowering the boom.
Controlled Receiver Flow Around a Boom Tanker
Aircraft join the Tanker on her Port (Left) wing.
When the Boom is lowered the first receiver moves into position to take fuel.
Once the first receiver is refuelled then they move to the reform position on the right wing.
Once cleared from behind the boom, receivers will reform in echelon in the Reform Position.
The next receiver(s) waiting in the Observation Position will remain in that position until cleared by the tanker to move. Once the refuelled receiver is clear of the boom and moving towards the reform position, the next receiver in the sequence will be directed to the astern position and then complete the refuelling sequence discussed above. Before moving, the receiver must also visually confirm that the previous receiver has moved towards the Reform Position
Leaving the Formation
Once refuelling is complete, receivers will be cleared to the reform position. If there are two or more receivers, they should reform using echelon right formation, moving sequentially outboard of the tanker with the first receiver remaining closest to the tanker’s wing. From this position, they leave the tanker either level with the tanker or climbing.
SUGGESTED TANKER TRACKING THREAD
Much like we have an ATC Tracking thread, I think that we should have a Tanker Tracking Thread, which should be used just to announce Tanker operations. If pilots wish to communicate details then they do so by Private Message away from the thread in order to keep the main thread tidy and easy to see who is conducting operations and when and where.
Suggested format for each post in the thread below:
Date On Station: DDMMMYY
Time on Station:2030Z
AAR Area: UK NORTH SEA TANKER LANE
AAR Anchor Waypoint:
Tanker Callsign:ATAR 5 HEAVY
NOTAM: Add important event information here
Happy contrails all, see you in the virtual skies!