Fighter aircrafts sometimes need A-A Refueling because mission demands long Endurance (range) and it helps them spare their hardpoints for carrying armaments which would have otherwise been used for carrying fuel tanks. There are 3 common methods used for A-A Refueling which are follows:

  1. Flying Boom aka Boom & Socket method.
  2. Probe & Drogue.
  3. Buddy Store.

Flying Boom

In this method a retractable hard movable metal boom controlled by boom operator is inserted in fighter aircraft receptacle in fuselage.

This method is mostly used by NATO & US Air Force using KC-135 Stratotanker.

Flying Boom is quite fast in comparison to Probe & Drogue method.

Probe & Drogue

In this method a hose trailing from HDU (Hose Drum Unit) ending in a Drogue resembling shuttlecock fits to a Probe integrated on Aircraft fuselage. This is simple & widely used method by different airforces around the world. This method is bit slower in comparison to Flying Boom air to air Refueling.

Buddy Store

Buddy Store is podded HDU (Hose and Probe System) mounted on Aircraft hard point, allows fighter to Refuel by extending Probe into Drogue. A/Cs like FA-18s and J-16s amongst others can refuel using this method. A few UAVs are also being tested to have this method to support Strike Packages & CAPS formation quickly. This method is quite effective as a fighter Jet flies faster than a tanker, have low RCS & more maneuverability in case of any threat from any adversary.

Read our Article on PAF’s Air to Air Refueling Capability:

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