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UA857
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Do Military Aircraft make refueling stops while enroute or are they just refueled while flying?

Wed Jul 15, 2020 6:11 am

Do military aircraft (e.g. KC-135, KC-10, C-130, C-5 and C-17) make a stop somewhere like what commercial airliners do while enroute to the Middle East from the US Mainland or are they just refueled inflight?
 
slcguy
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Re: Do Military Aircraft make refueling stops while enroute or are they just refueled while flying?

Wed Jul 15, 2020 2:40 pm

The answer is both depending on location and mission need. The larger long range aircraft probably just stop for fuel. Fighter types on a long range flight are more likely to need air refueling.
 
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SheikhDjibouti
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Re: Do Military Aircraft make refueling stops while enroute or are they just refueled while flying?

Wed Jul 15, 2020 2:56 pm

UA857 wrote:
Do military aircraft (e.g. KC-135, KC-10, C-130, C-5 and C-17) make a stop somewhere like what commercial airliners do while enroute to the Middle East from the US Mainland or are they just refueled inflight?
Whilst you are waiting for someone who knows what they are talking about (GF, I'm looking at you. :lol: ), I will add my two cents.

Firstly; your question implies US Military a/c (USAF, USN, USMC etc).
There are other operators... but if that's not relevant, c'est la vie. (Hint; most other countries do not have a fleet of KC-135s/KC-10s available to offer in-flight refueling, so stops at say :Lajes (Azores) are quite common.)

Now to your list
KC-135
The vast majority of KC-135s are donor-refuellers only. Only a small number are capable of receiving fuel themselves.
Hence the caption accompanying this KC-135R/ARR photo (and a bonus prize for guessing what the "ARR" might refer to.)


KC-10
I believe KC-10s are able to receive fuel, but given that they carry such a colossal quantity themselves, they rarely actually need topping up, unless they are planning to circumnavigate the earth... twice. :duck:

C-130
Another case of mostly they do not accept fuel, although there are exceptions.
For instance, RAF machines have been retrofitted like this for decades. Visibly so.
The photo on the left dates back to 1983, and demonstrates one of the main reasons the RAF installed these refuelling probes; i.e. it is taken in the Falkand Islands.


C-5
As GalaxyFlyer will no doubt confirm, C-5s routinely take-off with low fuel on-board, topping up just off the East Coast of US.
Presumably if it is a particularly long haul, they will top up again en-route, using KC-135s from say Mildenhall (UK), or other equipment lodged somewhere in Spain
(e.g. Morón Air Base).


C-17
..meh.. I'll let someone else fill in the blanks here.
Nothing to see here; move along please.
 
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SheikhDjibouti
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Re: Do Military Aircraft make refueling stops while enroute or are they just refueled while flying?

Wed Jul 15, 2020 3:02 pm

slcguy wrote:
The answer is both depending on location and mission need. The larger long range aircraft probably just stop for fuel. Fighter types on a long range flight are more likely to need air refueling.

As a counterpoint to that; at least with a transport aircraft you can change crew, or get up, stretch your legs and visit the bathroom.

With fighter jets, that's less of an option, so comfort-breaks should be arranged if at all possible. Lajes sees a lot of traffic in this respect.
Nothing to see here; move along please.
 
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Dutchy
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Re: Do Military Aircraft make refueling stops while enroute or are they just refueled while flying?

Wed Jul 15, 2020 5:16 pm

How long can a fight jockey fly, normal circumstances? Must be time-limited.....
Many happy landings, greetings from The Netherlands!
 
889091
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Re: Do Military Aircraft make refueling stops while enroute or are they just refueled while flying?

Wed Jul 15, 2020 5:58 pm

Dutchy wrote:
How long can a fight jockey fly, normal circumstances? Must be time-limited.....


Not sure about peacetime operations, but these guys flew 7 hrs on patrol in Iraq in a F-14 (probably F-14B, but I am not able to confirm that).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGGfZMHEK8A
 
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LyleLanley
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Re: Do Military Aircraft make refueling stops while enroute or are they just refueled while flying?

Wed Jul 15, 2020 8:01 pm

It depends on what you're doing, how quickly you need it there, can you get diplomatic clearance (dips) to gas 'n' go at an intermediate stop, are tankers available, will the aircraft breaking on a positioning leg have serious cascading effects on the mission, this, that, that, and 20 other things.

It depends on a lot of factors, which matter far more than the technical capabilities of the aircraft.

For instance, the KC-10 can fly from the west coast of the US to Saudi Arabia non-stop and un-refuelled. It's been done before and it's a pretty cool capability. However, every two weeks a Travis KC-10 flies to the United Arab Emirates to swap out crews and jets at Al Dhafra AB, and they usually hit a tanker (normally Wisconsin ANG KC-135 over Canada) on their way to the desert for anywhere from 60-90k pounds of gas. Why? Because a broken inbound rotator is a lot of hassle for CENTCOM and the outbound crews and is worth the expense of tacking on an AAR. On the way back, they generally stop at Ramstein AB, Germany, or Bangor IAP, Maine, as the jet breaking in the system is less of an issue on the depositioning leg.
"I've sold monorails to Brockway, Ogdenville, and North Haverbrook, and, by gum, it put them on the map!"
 
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LyleLanley
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Re: Do Military Aircraft make refueling stops while enroute or are they just refueled while flying?

Wed Jul 15, 2020 8:02 pm

889091 wrote:
Dutchy wrote:
How long can a fight jockey fly, normal circumstances? Must be time-limited.....


Not sure about peacetime operations, but these guys flew 7 hrs on patrol in Iraq in a F-14 (probably F-14B, but I am not able to confirm that).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGGfZMHEK8A


Very close: it's an F-14D.
"I've sold monorails to Brockway, Ogdenville, and North Haverbrook, and, by gum, it put them on the map!"
 
RetiredWeasel
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Re: Do Military Aircraft make refueling stops while enroute or are they just refueled while flying?

Wed Jul 15, 2020 8:36 pm

Dutchy wrote:
How long can a fight jockey fly, normal circumstances? Must be time-limited.....


Flew an F-4 for 12 hours from George AFB, CA to Wildenrath AB, Germany non stop. And that's not close to the record which have been up to 15 hours I believe on long deployments.
 
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Dutchy
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Re: Do Military Aircraft make refueling stops while enroute or are they just refueled while flying?

Wed Jul 15, 2020 9:31 pm

RetiredWeasel wrote:
Dutchy wrote:
How long can a fight jockey fly, normal circumstances? Must be time-limited.....


Flew an F-4 for 12 hours from George AFB, CA to Wildenrath AB, Germany non stop. And that's not close to the record which have been up to 15 hours I believe on long deployments.



Must be quite an uncomfortable ride! 12 hours in a fighter cockpit. Then again, I never been up for a ride, so I don't know ;-)
Many happy landings, greetings from The Netherlands!
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Do Military Aircraft make refueling stops while enroute or are they just refueled while flying?

Wed Jul 15, 2020 10:18 pm

Not that in the C-5 A/B models and probably very rare for the M models. The reliability of the A/B made the rendezvous a challenge and the M doesn’t need it to for a lot of missions. Full pallet load KDOV-LTAG easily. We did it for high profile missions where there was no other way to plan it. Move the DSRV from Navy NI to Hicks, very heavy load, it was a refueling at the TOC, but a M could do it non-stop without refueling.
 
889091
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Re: Do Military Aircraft make refueling stops while enroute or are they just refueled while flying?

Wed Jul 15, 2020 10:51 pm

RetiredWeasel wrote:
Dutchy wrote:
How long can a fight jockey fly, normal circumstances? Must be time-limited.....


Flew an F-4 for 12 hours from George AFB, CA to Wildenrath AB, Germany non stop. And that's not close to the record which have been up to 15 hours I believe on long deployments.


The F-4 had dual controls for the rear cockpit as well, right? Were you able to get some shut eye during the 12 hours or was it a case of staying awake the whole time?
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Do Military Aircraft make refueling stops while enroute or are they just refueled while flying?

Thu Jul 16, 2020 12:53 am

I did a dozen 8+ hour legs in the A-10.

Couple of misconceptions:

Tankers aren’t fragged to fly in orbits just waiting for receivers. It’s all carefully scheduled, coordination overseas can be difficult depending on area and mission.

Second, every airlift mission has a “billpayer”; nothing is for free. If you’re a SOF unit wanting to go train with the Australian SAS, you have to have transport money to pay the Airlift Services Industrial Fund (ASIF) or AMC doesn’t show up. If your mission requires AR, it adds a huge cost.

Operational AR legs in the C-5 are pretty much contingencies where the regional command (CENTCOM, PACOM, for example) has finding thru a contingency appropriation or mission accomplishment requires AR.

A “for instance”; when the USN sub struck the tourist boat off Honolulu, it was quickly decided to send the North Island-based DSRV. Short runway, near max ZFW load, air refueled about 45 minutes after take-off, then again about halfway. A C-5B was pretty limited by take-off weight and cruised at those weights in mid-20s. Important mission, likely Presidential directed.

When Les Aspin got caught denying the Army in Mog armor and the SOF was shot up badly. Armor was on its way, pronto. Four A/Rs, 30-hour mission, about 30 of them IIRC. Mission reliability, as much as anything dictated AR. The old gal had about a 67% on-time departure (on-time was within 3 hours of plan), multiply that my three departures (US, Europe, two in the AOR) and there’s a 20% likelihood of delivery. One departure from Ft Stewart, engine running off-load in Mog and off to Cairo West. Clinton’s post-96 Australian extravaganza was run with tanking for the same reason, as was India. But, the President has that clout.

Generally, mission priority drives the AR requirement unless the mission can’t be accomplished without it. We delivered the DSRV from Brittany once, no urgency, we stopped everywhere—Prestwick, Keflavik, Bangor, got a stateside ANG unit to refuel us in the Midwest to get to North Island. No one would pay for the overseas tanker leg.

Another Mark V SOF boat move out of Townsville, QLD couldn’t be moved without a tanker. Tanked at TOC out of AU to Andersen, waivered to EWO weights to tank enough fuel in the second AR near Wake to PHIK. Good tail wind, didn’t need tanking to NI.

GF
 
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LyleLanley
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Re: Do Military Aircraft make refueling stops while enroute or are they just refueled while flying?

Thu Jul 16, 2020 2:12 am

Between the enroute support system and the NAS Rota stage, the C-5M is pretty well taken care of.

The C-17s also do well with the ER tanks in the center wing box in 99% of their missions. They're usually reliable enough to quick turn a lot of locations without much hassle. If they're flying direct to the Red Sea from Charleston AFB for an airdrop, they'll need to be refueled inflight.
"I've sold monorails to Brockway, Ogdenville, and North Haverbrook, and, by gum, it put them on the map!"
 
RetiredWeasel
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Re: Do Military Aircraft make refueling stops while enroute or are they just refueled while flying?

Thu Jul 16, 2020 2:31 am

889091 wrote:
RetiredWeasel wrote:
Dutchy wrote:
How long can a fight jockey fly, normal circumstances? Must be time-limited.....


Flew an F-4 for 12 hours from George AFB, CA to Wildenrath AB, Germany non stop. And that's not close to the record which have been up to 15 hours I believe on long deployments.


The F-4 had dual controls for the rear cockpit as well, right? Were you able to get some shut eye during the 12 hours or was it a case of staying awake the whole time?


The WSO I had on that trip was not that experienced so he got very little stick time...only when I had to unzip my poopy suit (anti exposure suit) and take a leak. The first half of that trip was flown in the dark and it was tense as sometimes we had 3 F-4s on each wing of a tanker and going trough cirrus. It was not fun. Never so happy to see the sun rise somewhere close to newfoundland. There were 12 F-4s...two cells of six each. On some parts of the route each cell had 2 tankers and some only 1 tanker for each cell. Landed in Germany and then took my 'go-pill' so I could stay awake and have a few beers.
 
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Moose135
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Re: Do Military Aircraft make refueling stops while enroute or are they just refueled while flying?

Thu Jul 16, 2020 3:31 am

SheikhDjibouti wrote:
KC-135
The vast majority of KC-135s are donor-refuellers only. Only a small number are capable of receiving fuel themselves.
Hence the caption accompanying this KC-135R/ARR photo (and a bonus prize for guessing what the "ARR" might refer to.)

I flew that bird - 58-0124 - about a dozen times when it was still an A-model at Grissom AFB. We had all the odd-ball tankers back then - the receiver equipped birds (we referred to them as RTs or RT-135s), the D-models, several flavors of EC-135 PACCS birds, plus the Reserve unit E-models.

This was shot from one of our other RTs, 58-0018 in August 1985.

Image

RetiredWeasel wrote:
Flew an F-4 for 12 hours from George AFB, CA to Wildenrath AB, Germany non stop. And that's not close to the record which have been up to 15 hours I believe on long deployments.


We dragged a gaggle of F-4Es across the pond, but they didn't fly that far! They (along with a KC-10) came out of Seymour-Johnson, we launched out of Pease and met up with them en route. We landed at RAF Mildenhall, and they continued to Spangdahlem.

Image

Image
KC-135 - Passing gas and taking names!
 
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AirlineCritic
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Re: Do Military Aircraft make refueling stops while enroute or are they just refueled while flying?

Thu Jul 16, 2020 10:15 am

RetiredWeasel wrote:
Flew an F-4 for 12 hours from George AFB, CA to Wildenrath AB, Germany non stop.


That's a long time on an F-4! Does that require also refilling the bottle tank from the bladder tank at some point en-route? :-)
 
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smithbs
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Re: Do Military Aircraft make refueling stops while enroute or are they just refueled while flying?

Sun Jul 19, 2020 3:59 am

GalaxyFlyer wrote:
I did a dozen 8+ hour legs in the A-10.

Couple of misconceptions:

Tankers aren’t fragged to fly in orbits just waiting for receivers. It’s all carefully scheduled, coordination overseas can be difficult depending on area and mission.

Second, every airlift mission has a “billpayer”; nothing is for free. If you’re a SOF unit wanting to go train with the Australian SAS, you have to have transport money to pay the Airlift Services Industrial Fund (ASIF) or AMC doesn’t show up. If your mission requires AR, it adds a huge cost.

Operational AR legs in the C-5 are pretty much contingencies where the regional command (CENTCOM, PACOM, for example) has finding thru a contingency appropriation or mission accomplishment requires AR.

A “for instance”; when the USN sub struck the tourist boat off Honolulu, it was quickly decided to send the North Island-based DSRV. Short runway, near max ZFW load, air refueled about 45 minutes after take-off, then again about halfway. A C-5B was pretty limited by take-off weight and cruised at those weights in mid-20s. Important mission, likely Presidential directed.

When Les Aspin got caught denying the Army in Mog armor and the SOF was shot up badly. Armor was on its way, pronto. Four A/Rs, 30-hour mission, about 30 of them IIRC. Mission reliability, as much as anything dictated AR. The old gal had about a 67% on-time departure (on-time was within 3 hours of plan), multiply that my three departures (US, Europe, two in the AOR) and there’s a 20% likelihood of delivery. One departure from Ft Stewart, engine running off-load in Mog and off to Cairo West. Clinton’s post-96 Australian extravaganza was run with tanking for the same reason, as was India. But, the President has that clout.

Generally, mission priority drives the AR requirement unless the mission can’t be accomplished without it. We delivered the DSRV from Brittany once, no urgency, we stopped everywhere—Prestwick, Keflavik, Bangor, got a stateside ANG unit to refuel us in the Midwest to get to North Island. No one would pay for the overseas tanker leg.

Another Mark V SOF boat move out of Townsville, QLD couldn’t be moved without a tanker. Tanked at TOC out of AU to Andersen, waivered to EWO weights to tank enough fuel in the second AR near Wake to PHIK. Good tail wind, didn’t need tanking to NI.

GF


Good stuff. Was it ever possible to talk a refueling wing into a mission under the guise of training? I suppose then at least the transfer fuel would have to be paid for, but maybe the aircraft, crew and own fuel could be covered under the training budget?
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Do Military Aircraft make refueling stops while enroute or are they just refueled while flying?

Sun Jul 19, 2020 7:02 pm

Stateside, yes wings could arrange with a unit enroute for an AR “training” mission. Tankers have training requirements, too. I’ve done it moving to a few air shows in the A-10 or earlier the F-100. Couple days in advance, the tanker unit may be able to schedule, especially if it gets them a training requirement done. C-5 refueling was good for them, but our unreliability usually made tankers reluctant to schedule a training sortie. Training sorties are usually scheduled with AMC thru something called the “horse blanket” schedule which was a quarterly plan.
 
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LyleLanley
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Re: Do Military Aircraft make refueling stops while enroute or are they just refueled while flying?

Mon Jul 20, 2020 5:25 pm

Going from overseas to the states, especially from Hawaii to the US, I've had receivers "piggyback" with us before, taking gas along the way. Mostly, they were stragglers who had missed previous drags due to mx issues. Oftentimes USMC. A few we literally met at the bar the night before, realized we were "compatible" and nailed the refueling plan before the check came. Going the same direction and it helps some bros out? Win-win.
"I've sold monorails to Brockway, Ogdenville, and North Haverbrook, and, by gum, it put them on the map!"
 
bhill
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Re: Do Military Aircraft make refueling stops while enroute or are they just refueled while flying?

Mon Jul 20, 2020 6:44 pm

Two questions, OP, did you mean TANKERS needing more gas en-route? And can the tankers use the gas they are carrying as fuel for the turbines currently rotating on the wings or is it kept separate for the paying customers?
Carpe Pices
 
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Moose135
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Re: Do Military Aircraft make refueling stops while enroute or are they just refueled while flying?

Mon Jul 20, 2020 7:03 pm

bhill wrote:
And can the tankers use the gas they are carrying as fuel for the turbines currently rotating on the wings or is it kept separate for the paying customers?

In the KC-135 (except for the Q-models that refueled the SR-71) you could burn everything you carried, or you could offload all but a few thousand pounds. On the Q-model, the forward and aft body tanks (in the lower fuselage) were separated from the main fuels system of the aircraft, as the SR burned a different type of fuel.
KC-135 - Passing gas and taking names!

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