Tanker Talk: Air to Air Refueling 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).


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


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.

For additonal information, including speeds, and flight levels please see @DeerCrusher 's excellent tutorial Aerial Refueling Tips, Tricks, & Information


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

Server: Training


AAR Anchor Waypoint:

Base Airport:EGVN

Tanker Callsign:ATAR 5 HEAVY

NOTAM: Add important event information here


Happy contrails all, see you in the virtual skies!


Awesome! Will read through and get some info on the A-A refueling thang!

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Yes! I love it! Should introduce some more professionalism into AAR! Hopefully everyone has a scroll through and gets some info! Cheers 🙂

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And I agree there is an issue within the current thread, with pilots communicating through the thread, it makes it a lot more untidy!

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Thanks! Yes I wanted to put together a single short guide which people could refer to ( should have added the FLS and Speeds, will go back and edit them in later on). Also nice to have a central uncluttered thread so that both tanker pilots and receivers can quickly see if there is any action around for them to join in!

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Remove the tracking section in your post. There’s already a dedicated thread for that.

Hopefully this gets around


This isnt meant to be a tracking thread, however it was a sugegstion for clearing up the tracking thread as when I have looked at it I find it hard to find any details of when a Tanker is available for business.


I love the format! I’ll implement it IMMEDIATELY

@David_Lockwood I tagged you in the post to give you the courtesy. Please make sure if it’s correct.


Excelent post @David_Lockwood!
Just to add the KDC10 operations of the RNLAF, Eindhoven Air Base is their home. Mil AIP netherlands
ENR 1.1.9 Air Refueling Page 24 is what we are looking for.

Regards, Tom


Thanks Tom,

have added that to my reading list for the commute home tonight!



Fantastic work! It’s neat to see the proper formation procedures.


It’d be interesting for both refueling AND commercial fights if they could program “holds” into the autopilots!


@David_Lockwood. MaxSez: Exceptional, Comprehensive, Professionaly Stated. This Topic belongs in Tutorials. It also should lead a single source separate Tanker Feature as previously posted. Or be established as the only FDS approved “Thread” for all things “Tanker related” member generated items by Link.

Having participated in Tanker Ops as the Tanker and Reciever in the RW, I consider this Topic the straight scoop!

Well Done Dave this Topic deserves a Golden Peanut;



to complete the Netherlands part:
there are two tracks for refuelling training in the current Netherlands AIP.
I have mad Flightplandatabase entry’s for them.

CAROL track
EHEH Eindhoven Air-Base, CAROL track, and back

POLLY track
EHEH Eindhoven Air-Base, POLLY track, and back

EHLW Leuwarden, EHVK Voelkel might be the realistic starting points for F16, the netherlands C130H where based at EHEH.



Germen Mil AIP refuelling anchor map

link might be broken, you can find it here:
German MIL AIP

under “GEMIL FLIP MAP” “Air Refuelling Anchors”


Jet another one that fits to the topic „Talk-„:

Omega Tau Podcast about AAR with the KDC10

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I wanna try it
Can but today
I tried with my friends several ways
What is require for refuel at air
Is there any mentioned member

For additonal information, including speeds, and flight levels please see @DeerCrusher 's excellent tutorial Aerial Refueling Tips, Tricks, & Information

Also post in the following thread if you want to try bring a tanker so you can get some customers. Remember to use the correct format. Refuelers || Tracking Thread

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If air refuelling got boring for you:

via @CivMilAir on Twitter

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