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Air Force Aerial Refueling Methods: Flying Boom versus Hose-and-Drogue



 
 
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  #1  
Old June 28th 06, 08:55 PM posted to rec.aviation.military.naval
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Default Air Force Aerial Refueling Methods: Flying Boom versus Hose-and-Drogue

What about naval aviation needs?
Mike

Congressional Research Service The Library of Congress
CRS Report for Congress
Order Code RL32910

Air Force Aerial Refueling Methods:
Flying Boom versus Hose-and-Drogue
Updated June 5, 2006
Christopher Bolkcom
Specialist in National Defense
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division

Air Force Aerial Refueling Methods:
Flying Boom versus Hose-and-Drogue
Summary
Decisions on the composition of the Air Force aerial refueling fleet
were made
decades ago, when the primary mission was to refuel long-range
strategic bombers.
Modifications have been made to many of these tanker aircraft (KC-135s
and KC-
10s) to make them more effective in refueling fighter aircraft. This
report, which will
be updated, examines the balance between two different refueling
methods in today's
refueling fleet - "flying boom" and "hose-and-drogue."
Contents
Introduction 1
Background 2
Effectiveness of the Current Air Force Fleet 3
Potential Issues 6
List of Figures
Figure 1. USAF KC-10 Refueling B-52 with Flying Boom 1
Figure 2. USMC KC-130 Refueling F/A-18s with Hose-and-Drogue 2
Figure 3. Current and Hypothetical Air Force Aerial Refueling Profiles
5

Air Force Aerial Refueling Methods:
Flying Boom versus Hose-and-Drogue
Introduction
Air Force aerial refueling received considerable attention in the 108th
and 109th
Congresses. Much attention has focused on recapitalizing the KC-135
fleet, and a
proposed - and ultimately rejected - lease of 100 Boeing KC-767
aircraft.1 In light of
proposed replacements to the tanker fleet, this report examines the
Department of
Defense's (DOD) mix of aerial refueling methods.
Currently, Air Force fixed-wing aircraft refuel with the "flying
boom." The boom
is a rigid, telescoping tube that an operator on the tanker aircraft
extends and inserts into
a receptacle on the aircraft being refueled.
Air Force helicopters, and all Navy and Marine Corps aircraft refuel
using the "hose-anddrogue."
NATO countries and other allies also refuel with the hose-and drogue.
As its
name implies, this refueling method employs a flexible hose that trails
from the tanker
aircraft. A drogue (a small windsock) at the end of the hose stabilizes
it in flight, and
provides a funnel for the aircraft being refueled, which inserts a
probe into the hose.
All boom-equipped tankers (i.e., KC-135, KC-10), have a single boom and
can refuel one aircraft at a time with this mechanism. Many tanker
aircraft that employ
the hose-and-drogue system, can simultaneously employ two such
mechanisms - and,
refuel two aircraft simultaneously. The boom, however, can dispense
fuel faster than a
hose-and-drogue.
A single flying boom can transfer fuel at approximately 6,000 lbs per
minute. A
single hose-and-drogue can transfer between 1,500 and 2,000 lbs of fuel
per minute.
Unlike bombers and other large aircraft, however, fighter aircraft
cannot accept fuel at the
boom's maximum rate. (Today's fighter aircraft can accept fuel at
1,000 to 3,000 lbs per
minute whether from the boom or from the hose-and-drogue.)2 Thus, the
flying boom's
primary advantage over the hose-and-drogue system is lost when
refueling fighter aircraft.
As decisions are made regarding the Air Force tanker fleet, an issue
that may arise
for Congress is whether to examine the mix of boom, and
hose-and-drogue-refuelable
aircraft in the Air Force. What might be the benefits and costs of any
changes? Would
DOD benefit in terms of increased combat power? If so, would this
benefit justify the
cost?
Background
Air Force aircraft have not always used the flying boom. All U.S.
combat aircraft
used the hose-and-drogue system until the late 1950s. The Air Force's
decision to field
boom-equipped tankers was based on the refueling needs of long-range
bombers, which
required large amounts of fuel. The Air Force's fighter community
resisted eliminating
the hose-and-drogue, but was overruled by the Strategic Air Command,
which operated
the tanker fleet, and during the Cold War, placed a higher value on
refueling bombers.3
The perceived shortcomings of using a single boom to refuel fighter
aircraft is
reflected in a 1990 Air Force initiative to standardize DOD fighter
aircraft refueling on
the hose-and-drogue method. As initially conceived, the initiative
consisted of three
elements: (1) placing probes on all F-15 and F-16 fighters; (2)
incorporating a probe in
the design of the F-22A; and (3) adding two drogue pods to at least 150
KC-135s. To
provide redundancy and flexibility, Air Force fighters would retain
their boom
receptacles.4 The 1991 war with Iraq (Operation Desert Storm)
heightened DOD
concerns over a lack of uniformity in aerial refueling methods. Navy
leaders expressed
frustration and dissatisfaction with the number of Air Force aerial
refueling aircraft
capable of employing the hose-and-drogue. Post-conflict analyses
recommended that the
Navy purchase its own fleet of land-based KC-10-sized tankers to
increase the number
of hose-and-drogue aircraft and reduce its reliance on Air Force aerial
refueling.5
Navy concerns were mollified by Air Force promises of increased
cooperation and
undermined by a lack of budget to purchase new refueling aircraft.6 The
Air Force's hoseand-
drogue initiative was also scaled back. Instead of pursuing the three
elements
described above, the Air Force equipped 20 KC-135s and 20 KC-10s with
Multi Point
Refueling System (MPRS) kits that allow them to employ hose-and-drogue
systems,
either from wing pods, or attached to the end of the boom.
Effectiveness of the Current Air Force Fleet
The Air Force's aerial refueling fleet is often described as a
"high demand/low
density" (HD/LD) force. The fleet is in high demand because of the
operational benefit
derived from aerial refueling, the long distances U.S. combat aircraft
often must fly, and
the multiple operations in which they are engaged. Despite numbering
well over 500
aircraft, the fleet is considered low density (few in number) for two
apparent reasons.
First, the demand for hose-and-drogue refueling across DOD does not
appear to be
well matched by the Air Force's hose-and-drogue capabilities; this
can create a refueling
bottleneck. As some have observed, "Operation Desert Storm, Operation
Allied Force in
1999 over Yugoslavia, and Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001
demonstrated that
requests for fuel offload do not always match the capacity to deliver
it."7 It appears that
limited access to Air Force tankers has handicapped or complicated the
Navy's longrange
strike capability in some conflicts. Because KC-135 aircraft employ a
single hose,
Navy fighters must cycle six to eight aircraft through the refueling
queue. By the time the
last aircraft has refueled, the first one requires more gas. This
process can require three
to four refueling hits for each aircraft before reaching a distant
target. Navy and Marine
Corps strike packages - often composed of 24 aircraft - have
required as many as four
KC-135s to meet their refueling needs.8 Suggesting a dearth of Air
Force tanker support,
U.S. Navy pilots who flew early missions against the Taliban during
Operation Enduring
Freedom described the UK Royal Air Force's (RAF) six VC-10 tankers
that supported
them as "a Godsend" and the "silent heros" of the air war. Navy
pilots expressed a clear
preference for RAF tankers over USAF tankers.9
To ameliorate a deficit in refueling assets during Operation Iraqi
Freedom, the Navy
flew refueling sorties with F/A-18E/F aircraft.10 While using the Super
Hornet for aerial
refueling demonstrated flexibility and reduced the Navy's dependence
on the Air Force
for refueling, these desirable attributes came at a cost. F/A-18E/F
aircraft, and the pilots
that fly them, are very specialized. Using these assets for aerial
refueling rather than
combat is seen as a sub-optimization of a scarce and valuable resource.
F/A-18E/F
squadron VFA-115 flew 623 sorties between March 21, 2003 and April 9,
2003: 216 were
refueling sorties. When equipped to refuel other aircraft, Super
Hornets carry only self
defense weapons and are not equipped to conduct attack operations.11
The second reason the 500+ aircraft tanker fleet is considered "low
density" is that
it does not appear that the flying boom's fuel transfer rate is fully
taken advantage of,
leading to an under-exploitation of the tanker fleet by most Air Force
aircraft. In 2005,
96% of Air Force aircraft that are aerial refuelable use the flying
boom. However, only
20% of the current Air Force fleet (669 bombers and surveillance
aircraft of 3,227
aircraft) can use the refueling boom to its full capacity. Four percent
of the Air Force fleet
(139 helicopters of 3,227 aircraft) can't use the boom at all.
Seventy four percent of the
fleet (2,419 fighters of 3,227 aircraft) could potentially refuel with
the hose-and-drogue
with no reduction in fuel transfer rates.12
The following two scenarios illustrate the potentially more effective
exploitation of
aerial refueling assets by Air Force aircraft. If the Air Force were to
replace its 1,356 F-
16s and 356 A-10s (which are outfitted with boom receptacles) with
1,763 JSFs that are
equipped to refuel with refueling probes, only 43% of the fleet (1,470
of 3,372 aircraft)
would need to be refueled with booms. (The black and black-and-white
columns in
Figure 3). Air Force boom-refuelable aircraft would be evenly divided
between large
aircraft that can use this method at its full transfer rate and small
aircraft that use the
boom at a reduced transfer rate.
The Air Force wishes to replace its 722 F-15s, and 55 F-117s (777
total) with the F-
22A Raptor. It too could potentially be modified to refuel with
hose-and-drogue systems.
Because the F-22 design is more mature than that of the JSF, changes to
the aircraft to
convert it from boom to hose-and-drogue refueling may be more expensive
and
potentially infeasible. The Air Force wants 381 Raptors. The current
budget plan
supports the purchase of 179 F-22As.13 If the Air Force were to modify
the F-22A to
refuel by the hose-and-drogue method and if the Air Force were to
replace its 777 legacy
aircraft with 381 Raptors, the percentage of the total fleet that would
require boom
refueling would drop to 23% (669 of 2,932 aircraft). All these aircraft
use the boom at
its full transfer rate. Seventy-seven percent of the fleet (2,243 of
2,912 aircraft) would use
the hose-and-drogue refueling system and be interoperable with Navy,
Marine Corps and
allied refueling aircraft.14
Potential Issues
Considering changes to the mix of refueling methods in the Air Force
tanker fleet
appears to raise two overarching issues: potential operational benefit
and potential cost.
The primary potential operational benefit of increasing the number of
aerial refueling
hoses has already been described above: a more effective use of aerial
refueling assets.
Another potential benefit of increasing the number of aerial refueling
hoses may include
greater interoperability and thus more effective coordination among the
Air Force, Navy,
Marine Corps, and allied air forces.
Calculating the potential costs of increasing the proportion of hoses
to booms in the
Air Force tanker fleet would depend in large part on how DOD and
Congress might
decide to recapitalize and upgrade the current fleet. One option would
be to replace the
oldest KC-135s with new aircraft equipped with two refueling hoses.
Structural
modifications to commercial aircraft to accommodate a flying boom are
more significant
than the modifications for hose-and-drogue mechanisms. The boom itself
also costs more
than the hose-and-drogue and is more complex. Thus, these new aircraft
would likely be
less costly than new, boom-equipped tankers. Newer KC-135s and KC-10s
with booms
would need to be retained to refuel large aircraft.
Another option would be to replace the oldest KC-135s with new,
boom-equipped
tankers and to outfit the remaining tankers with the Multipoint
Refueling System (MPRS).
Estimates by the GAO and CRS suggest that the cost of producing and
installing the
MPRS could be roughly $5.1 million per aircraft in 2004 dollars or $510
million for 100
aircraft. (Air Force program officials estimate it takes approximately
7,000 man-hours,
or up to seven months, to modify KC-135s to accept the MPRS.)15 This
cost estimate
does not consider newer systems being developed that could be more or
less expensive
than MPRS.16
Regardless of which approach is taken to recapitalize the KC-135 fleet,
legacy USAF
fighter aircraft would need to be retrofitted, and new aircraft would
need to be
manufactured with refueling probes if they were to exploit multipoint
hose-and-drogue
refueling. It may be that the costs incurred by these modifications
could be offset by the
cost savings derived from improved aerial refueling effectiveness and
corresponding
reductions in tanker force structure. "According to 1991 Air Force
estimates, the $1.3
billion cost to modify about 3,000 F-15 and F-16 fighter and 250
tankers [to hose-anddrogue
configuration] could be offset by reduced operating and support costs
from the
retirement of about 26 KC-135 tankers."17
At least five studies have examined the pros and cons of a single boom
versus
multipoint hose-and-drogues.18 Because these studies considered
different operational
factors in their analyses and made different assumptions, they came to
different
conclusions. However, all found that tankers equipped with multipoint
hose-and-drogue
refueling would refuel combat aircraft more effectively than boom
equipped aircraft and
could therefore allow a reduction in the tanker fleet. Reduction
estimates ranged from
17% to 50%.19 These reductions would result from the increased speed
with which a
multipoint hose-and-drogue-equipped aircraft could refuel
multiple-aircraft strike
packages. The following evaluation illustrates how increasing the speed
with which
combat aircraft are refueled could translate into increased efficiency
and potentially lead
to reduced tanker force structure and cost savings:
by refueling two fighters simultaneously, the time that the fighters
spend refueling can
be reduced by approximately 75 percent. This reduced refueling time, in
turn, would
enable the tanker to have considerably more fuel available to off-load
to other
receivers....The less fuel burned by either the tanker or the receivers
during aerial
contact, the more that is available to conduct the fighter mission. At
fighter refueling
speeds, a KC-135A burns something in excess of 200 pounds per minute.
Reducing
the air refueling time from 40 minutes to 10 minutes (75 percent) makes
approximately 6,000 pounds of additional fuel available....the fuel
savings in a fourtanker
formation could be enough to refuel an extra flight of four fighters or
allow the
same mission to be accomplished with one less tanker.20
Advocates of the flying boom argue that it is prudent to maintain a
large number of
these tankers in the Air Force. While fighter aircraft receive much
media attention, the
contribution of long-range bombers to recent conflicts has been
noteworthy.21 These
aircraft may become even more important as the United States reduces
its overseas basing
and deploys over greater distances. Bombers and other large aircraft
can spend as much
as 20 minutes refueling at the boom's maximum capacity. Refueling
such aircraft with
the hose-and-drogue is infeasible.22
Further, boom advocates argue, technological advances are being made in
new
booms which reduce operator workload and should make them safer and
more reliable
than the hose-and-drogue method.23 Industry is incorporating
commercial, off-the-shelf
technology in booms currently under development, hoping to make them
"fail safe."24
Finally, it is argued, tankers with flying booms are in some ways more
flexible than
tankers with hose-and-drogue refueling. A tanker with a flying boom can
be converted
in the field to accommodate probe-equipped aircraft, if necessary.
Hose-and-drogue
tankers cannot be converted to accommodate aircraft with boom
receptacles. To
accommodate fighter aircraft, tankers with flying booms can reduce the
speed at which
they dispense fuel.25 Tankers with hose-and-drogue refueling cannot
increase the speed
at which they dispense fuel to accommodate bombers and other large
aircraft.

1 See CRS Report RL32056. The Air Force KC-767 Tanker Lease Proposal:
Key Issues For
Congress for more information.
2 KC-135 Aerial Refueling Manual T.O. 1-1C-1-3.
3 For more information on ths history of air refueling, see
[http://www.centennialofflight.gov/es...ng/Tech22.htm].
4 "Multipoint Refueling Planned for Air Force KC-135 Fleet,"
Aerospace Daily, Mar. 12,
1991, p. 420 and Government Accounting Office, Aerial Refueling
Initiative: Cross-Service
Analysis Needed to Determine Best Approach, GAO/NSIAD-93-186, July
1993, p. 7.
5 "Navy Sees Need for Organic Land-Based Tankers, More Satellites,"
Aerospace Daily,
May 10, 1991.
6 "Navy/Air Force Deal Would Eliminate Navy Need for Large
Tankers," Aerospace Daily.
Sept. 25, 1991.
7 Hunter Keeter, "Naval Air Refueling Needs Deferred in Air Force
Tanker Plan," Sea
Power, Apr. 2004.
8 Ibid.
9 David Graves, "Britain's Flying Tankers Hailed as
'Godsend,'" London Daily Telegraph,
Nov. 10, 2001.
10 David Fulghum, "Tanker Puzzle," Aviation Week & Space
Technology, Apr. 14, 2003.
P.23.
11 USN Office of Legislative Affairs, telephone conversation with CRS,
Apr. 13, 2004.
12 Refuelable Aircraft Inventory, (Excel Spreadsheet) USAF Office of
Legislative Liaison,
Weapons Division, Apr. 12, 2005.
13 See CRS Report RL31673, F-22A Raptor, by Christopher Bolkcom.
14 This analysis assumes no changes to other aircraft in the Air Force
fleet. If the number
of long-range bombers, strategic airlift aircraft, and aerial refueling
aircraft (capable of
being refueled themselves), increases in the future, the percentage of
aircraft most in need
of boom refueling would also increase.
15 Michael Gething, "KC-135 Upgrades Continue Apace," International
Defense Review,
May 14, 1999.
16 GAO/NSIAD-96-160, estimated that the Air Force would spend $204
million to equip 45
KC-135s with MPRS. On January 27, 1997, Boeing received a $23 million
contract to
fabricate nine kits to convert nine KC-135Rs to the MPRS configuration.
On December 20,
1997, Boeing was awarded a $15.5 million "face value increase" to
the MPRS contract.
$38.5 million / 9 MPRS kits = $4.2 million per MPRS in 1997 dollars. To
account for
inflation, a DOD deflator of 1.2156 was used. 1.2156 x $4.2 million =
$5.1 million in 2004
dollars. On July 1, 1996, the Air Force awarded a contract to Boeing
for $8.7 million for two
MPRS ship-sets. Using the same deflator to account for inflation, this
equates to $5.3
million per MPRS ship-set in FY2004 dollars.
17 GAO/NSIAD-93-186, op. cit.
18 Enhancing USAF Aerial Refueling Capabilities, RAND, 1990; Utility of
KC-135
Multipoint Modifications, AFSAA, 1992; Impact of Multipoint/Receptacle
Modifications,
AMC/XPY, 1993; Aerial Refueling Initiative, GAO, 1993; Multipoint
Refueling Program
Cost Benefit Analysis, Frontier Technology, 1995.
19 Paul Killingsworth. Multipoint Aerial Refueling: A Review and
Assessment. RAND, 1996,
pp. vii-ix.
20 Maj. Marck R. Cobb, "Aerial Refueling: The Need for a Multipoint,
Dual-System
Capability," AU-ARI-CP-87-3, Air University Press, July 1987.
21 See CRS Report RL31544, Long-Range Bombers: Background and Issues
for Congress.
22 CRS interviews with Air Force aerial refueling personnel, Sept. 2004
- Mar. 2005.
23 See, for example, David A. Fulghum, "Lowering the Boom,"
Aviation Week & Space
Technology, Feb. 7, 2005.
24 Lisa Troshinsky, "EADS' aerial refueling boom to be lightweight,
fail-safe," Aerospace
Daily and Defense Report, Sept. 15, 2004
25 KC-135 Aerial Refueling Manual T.O. 1-1C-1-3.

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  #2  
Old June 28th 06, 09:02 PM posted to rec.aviation.military.naval
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Default Air Force Aerial Refueling Methods: Flying Boom versus Hose-and-Drogue


"Mike" wrote in message
oups.com...

What about naval aviation needs?


Wean 'em.


  #3  
Old June 30th 06, 04:30 PM posted to rec.aviation.military.naval
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Default Air Force Aerial Refueling Methods: Flying Boom versus Hose-and-Drogue

Many tanker aircraft that employ the hose-and-drogue system, can simultaneously
employ two such mechanisms - and, refuel two aircraft simultaneously. The boom,
however, can dispense fuel faster than a hose-and-drogue.


I am not sure, what is the opinion on that of this group, but I guess
the hose-and-drogue system must be cheaper, though seems to required
more pilot skills (as the only one to get the connection, with no
operator from the tanker manoeuvering the device).

Also, hose-and-drogue is more, "portable", easier to adapt on smaller
planes (can you imagine F/A-18E with the flying boom?;-)))

Navy and Marine Corps strike packages - often composed of 24 aircraft - have
required as many as four KC-135s to meet their refueling needs.


The same task could demand 12 (a full squadron) of Super Hornets
configured as tankers.

F/A-18E/F squadron VFA-115 flew 623 sorties between March 21, 2003 and April 9,
2003: 216 were refueling sorties.


Gosh! It is over 33%!

When equipped to refuel other aircraft, Super Hornets carry only self
defense weapons and are not equipped to conduct attack operations.


Not the whole truth, I think. Some Super Hornets can carry an AGM-65
Maverick when flying RTKR/SSC missions. But I guess that due to the
small space between outboard and mid weapon stations the number of fuel
tanks then must be reduced to 3 (2 tanks + ARS, to be exact)??? Could
somebody confirm that?

Best regards,
Jacek Zemlo

  #4  
Old June 30th 06, 05:22 PM posted to rec.aviation.military.naval
Diamond Jim
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Posts: 23
Default Air Force Aerial Refueling Methods: Flying Boom versus Hose-and-Drogue


wrote in message
ups.com...
Many tanker aircraft that employ the hose-and-drogue system, can

simultaneously
employ two such mechanisms - and, refuel two aircraft simultaneously.

The boom,
however, can dispense fuel faster than a hose-and-drogue.


I am not sure, what is the opinion on that of this group, but I guess
the hose-and-drogue system must be cheaper, though seems to required
more pilot skills (as the only one to get the connection, with no
operator from the tanker manoeuvering the device).

Also, hose-and-drogue is more, "portable", easier to adapt on smaller
planes (can you imagine F/A-18E with the flying boom?;-)))

Navy and Marine Corps strike packages - often composed of 24 aircraft -

have
required as many as four KC-135s to meet their refueling needs.


The same task could demand 12 (a full squadron) of Super Hornets
configured as tankers.

F/A-18E/F squadron VFA-115 flew 623 sorties between March 21, 2003 and

April 9,
2003: 216 were refueling sorties.


Gosh! It is over 33%!

When equipped to refuel other aircraft, Super Hornets carry only self
defense weapons and are not equipped to conduct attack operations.


Not the whole truth, I think. Some Super Hornets can carry an AGM-65
Maverick when flying RTKR/SSC missions. But I guess that due to the
small space between outboard and mid weapon stations the number of fuel
tanks then must be reduced to 3 (2 tanks + ARS, to be exact)??? Could
somebody confirm that?

Best regards,
Jacek Zemlo


One thing to keep in mind. When your in the middle of the Pacific with no
ship or island to land on, and you need fuel, who do you want to depend on?
The guy flying the boom who may be having a bad day, or do you want to
depend on your own skills? (After all you have told everybody in every club
from Cubi Point to Naples, and all over the world that you are the greatest
fighter pilot that ever flew!). All kidding aside, I am sure that the guys
flying the boom are dedicated professionals, but the guy in the cockpit has
a little more motivation to get it right.


  #5  
Old June 30th 06, 08:27 PM posted to rec.aviation.military.naval
Ed Rasimus[_1_]
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Posts: 185
Default Air Force Aerial Refueling Methods: Flying Boom versus Hose-and-Drogue

On Fri, 30 Jun 2006 16:22:33 GMT, "Diamond Jim"
wrote:


wrote in message
oups.com...


I am not sure, what is the opinion on that of this group, but I guess
the hose-and-drogue system must be cheaper, though seems to required
more pilot skills (as the only one to get the connection, with no
operator from the tanker manoeuvering the device).

Also, hose-and-drogue is more, "portable", easier to adapt on smaller
planes (can you imagine F/A-18E with the flying boom?;-)))

Navy and Marine Corps strike packages - often composed of 24 aircraft -

have required as many as four KC-135s to meet their refueling needs.

One thing to keep in mind. When your in the middle of the Pacific with no
ship or island to land on, and you need fuel, who do you want to depend on?
The guy flying the boom who may be having a bad day, or do you want to
depend on your own skills? (After all you have told everybody in every club
from Cubi Point to Naples, and all over the world that you are the greatest
fighter pilot that ever flew!). All kidding aside, I am sure that the guys
flying the boom are dedicated professionals, but the guy in the cockpit has
a little more motivation to get it right.

There have only been a few aircraft with dual system receiver
capability. The only two I can recall are the F-105 and the F-101.
I've got hundreds and maybe thousands of tanker hook-ups, but only a
handful of drogue sticks. In my limited experience in one aircraft
that had the capability, I will state unequivocally that stabbing a
drogue in the F-105 is the single hardest task I have ever performed
in an airplane. (Please no "mile-high club in a fighter" jokes.)

Different aircraft with different probe locations can provide
different experiences, but with a retractable probe on the F-105 the
aircraft boundary layer airflow caused big interference with the
movement of the drogue as you got within range.

There are a number of factors involved in the debate, not the least of
which is the transfer rate for boom vs drogue. In a heavily loaded
aircraft as part of a large package requiring large volume transfers,
the faster you can take gas the better off you are. Getting a flight
of four through the tanker and then getting them all topped off so
that you drop off with everyone at the same state is critical. Slow
the transfer rate or make the hookup tougher and things go to hell
quickly.

As for the "who do you trust" question, I've been behind boomers in
training and the crustiest National Guard E-9s who have been doing it
for a zillion years. That old-timer could reach out and grab you if he
could see you. The newbie sometimes was timid, but I've never seen
anyone miss gas because of a boomer.

(For F-105 types, you could always tell the boomer to simply hold it
in place and you could fly the receptacle onto the boom. For F-4s
where the receptacle is behind your head, that option was not
available, but if you could fly formation you could get gas.)
Ed Rasimus
Fighter Pilot (USAF-Ret)
"When Thunder Rolled"
www.thunderchief.org
www.thundertales.blogspot.com
  #6  
Old June 30th 06, 08:30 PM posted to rec.aviation.military.naval
Mike Kanze
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Posts: 114
Default Air Force Aerial Refueling Methods: Flying Boom versus Hose-and-Drogue

Jacek & all,

I think the "what's better" aspects of hose-and-drogue versus flying boom refueling should really focus on the relative maneuverability of the "tankee" aircraft.

A "heavy" like a B-52 has considerably more inertia than a small pointy-nose like the F/A-18. So it makes much more sense to fuel heavies with a flying boom, which does not have as much inertia to overcome when close-in maneuvering is needed.

While a hose-and-drogue will "dance" much more in the airstream, the disparity in inertia between it and a small aircraft is much less. The F/A-18 and similar can more easily "dance" with the basket than a "heavy" might.

This doesn't make hose-and-drogue plugs - especially night plugs - any nicer for the "tankee," though. The emphasis is still on the "tankee" to successfully plug...

....and hope the package is "sweet."

--
Mike Kanze

"Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes."

- Anonymous

wrote in message ups.com...
Many tanker aircraft that employ the hose-and-drogue system, can simultaneously
employ two such mechanisms - and, refuel two aircraft simultaneously. The boom,
however, can dispense fuel faster than a hose-and-drogue.


I am not sure, what is the opinion on that of this group, but I guess
the hose-and-drogue system must be cheaper, though seems to required
more pilot skills (as the only one to get the connection, with no
operator from the tanker manoeuvering the device).

Also, hose-and-drogue is more, "portable", easier to adapt on smaller
planes (can you imagine F/A-18E with the flying boom?;-)))

Navy and Marine Corps strike packages - often composed of 24 aircraft - have
required as many as four KC-135s to meet their refueling needs.


The same task could demand 12 (a full squadron) of Super Hornets
configured as tankers.

F/A-18E/F squadron VFA-115 flew 623 sorties between March 21, 2003 and April 9,
2003: 216 were refueling sorties.


Gosh! It is over 33%!

When equipped to refuel other aircraft, Super Hornets carry only self
defense weapons and are not equipped to conduct attack operations.


Not the whole truth, I think. Some Super Hornets can carry an AGM-65
Maverick when flying RTKR/SSC missions. But I guess that due to the
small space between outboard and mid weapon stations the number of fuel
tanks then must be reduced to 3 (2 tanks + ARS, to be exact)??? Could
somebody confirm that?

Best regards,
Jacek Zemlo

  #7  
Old July 1st 06, 09:38 AM posted to rec.aviation.military.naval
Guy Alcala
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 14
Default Air Force Aerial Refueling Methods: Flying Boom versusHose-and-Drogue

Ed Rasimus wrote:

On Fri, 30 Jun 2006 16:22:33 GMT, "Diamond Jim"
wrote:


wrote in message
oups.com...


I am not sure, what is the opinion on that of this group, but I guess
the hose-and-drogue system must be cheaper, though seems to required
more pilot skills (as the only one to get the connection, with no
operator from the tanker manoeuvering the device).

Also, hose-and-drogue is more, "portable", easier to adapt on smaller
planes (can you imagine F/A-18E with the flying boom?;-)))

Navy and Marine Corps strike packages - often composed of 24 aircraft -

have required as many as four KC-135s to meet their refueling needs.

One thing to keep in mind. When your in the middle of the Pacific with no
ship or island to land on, and you need fuel, who do you want to depend on?
The guy flying the boom who may be having a bad day, or do you want to
depend on your own skills? (After all you have told everybody in every club
from Cubi Point to Naples, and all over the world that you are the greatest
fighter pilot that ever flew!). All kidding aside, I am sure that the guys
flying the boom are dedicated professionals, but the guy in the cockpit has
a little more motivation to get it right.

There have only been a few aircraft with dual system receiver
capability. The only two I can recall are the F-105 and the F-101.
I've got hundreds and maybe thousands of tanker hook-ups, but only a
handful of drogue sticks. In my limited experience in one aircraft
that had the capability, I will state unequivocally that stabbing a
drogue in the F-105 is the single hardest task I have ever performed
in an airplane. (Please no "mile-high club in a fighter" jokes.)


Ed, you only did that on a KC-135, right? If so, I submit that your sole drogue
experience is with the drogue universally acknowledged (by those with experience
of 'real' hose and drogues) to be the worst piece of **** ever to be stuck on a
tanker. Grabbing the first account to hand, John Trotti's ("Phantom over
Vietnam"):

"A Navy tanker cannot refuel an Air Force fighter [caveats about probe-equipped
USAF noted], nor can an Air Force tanker give fuel to a Navy receiver except in
the remote circumstance that the tanker happens to be configured with a
rinky-dink afterthought drogue attachment that bounces around like the Good Ship
Lollipop, and is nearly as impossible to plug into."



Different aircraft with different probe locations can provide
different experiences, but with a retractable probe on the F-105 the
aircraft boundary layer airflow caused big interference with the
movement of the drogue as you got within range.

There are a number of factors involved in the debate, not the least of
which is the transfer rate for boom vs drogue. In a heavily loaded
aircraft as part of a large package requiring large volume transfers,
the faster you can take gas the better off you are. Getting a flight
of four through the tanker and then getting them all topped off so
that you drop off with everyone at the same state is critical. Slow
the transfer rate or make the hookup tougher and things go to hell
quickly.


Then you have to add in the effects of multi-point refueling into the mix. BTW,
did you ever have a tanker unable to pass you gas?

Guy


  #8  
Old July 1st 06, 09:52 AM posted to rec.aviation.military.naval
Guy Alcala
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 14
Default Air Force Aerial Refueling Methods: Flying Boom versusHose-and-Drogue

Mike Kanze wrote:

Jacek & all, I think the "what's better" aspects of
hose-and-drogue versus flying boom refueling should really
focus on the relative maneuverability of the "tankee"
aircraft. A "heavy" like a B-52 has considerably more
inertia than a small pointy-nose like the F/A-18. So it
makes much more sense to fuel heavies with a flying boom,
which does not have as much inertia to overcome when
close-in maneuvering is needed. While a hose-and-drogue
will "dance" much more in the airstream, the disparity in
inertia between it and a small aircraft is much less. The
F/A-18 and similar can more easily "dance" with the basket
than a "heavy" might. This doesn't make hose-and-drogue
plugs - especially night plugs - any nicer for the
"tankee," though. The emphasis is still on the "tankee" to
successfully plug... ...and hope the package is "sweet."


I've been wondering -- although it would undoubtedly
eliminate much of the cost and simplicity advantage of probe
and drogue over boom and receptacle, does anyone here think
it would it be technically possible, given modern
miniaturization, to develop a drogue with active
stabilization? After all, KC-10 booms have been FBW for 25
years or so, so given miniaturized controls and inertial
elements, could a drogue be space-stabilized so it didn't
bounce around as much in turbulence? Could you even use
fiber-optics and guide the drogue manually (in multi-place
tankers)? Would such a capability be useful, or is it just
easier to let it move around and have the a/c chase it?
Alternatively, would it be better to have the drogue seek
the probe, in somewhat similar fashion to the way a radar or
IR seeker attempts to null out error messages? Just
thinking out loud in the wee hours.

Guy

  #9  
Old July 1st 06, 10:07 AM posted to rec.aviation.military.naval
Dave Kearton
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 1,453
Default Air Force Aerial Refueling Methods: Flying Boom versus Hose-and-Drogue

Guy Alcala wrote:

I've been wondering -- although it would undoubtedly
eliminate much of the cost and simplicity advantage of probe
and drogue over boom and receptacle, does anyone here think
it would it be technically possible, given modern
miniaturization, to develop a drogue with active
stabilization? After all, KC-10 booms have been FBW for 25
years or so, so given miniaturized controls and inertial
elements, could a drogue be space-stabilized so it didn't
bounce around as much in turbulence? Could you even use
fiber-optics and guide the drogue manually (in multi-place
tankers)? Would such a capability be useful, or is it just
easier to let it move around and have the a/c chase it?
Alternatively, would it be better to have the drogue seek
the probe, in somewhat similar fashion to the way a radar or
IR seeker attempts to null out error messages? Just
thinking out loud in the wee hours.

Guy





surround the basket with hair ?



But seriously folks .....an IR LED on the probe with a receiver on the
basket - should do the trick - with appropriate software & control surfaces,
of course.



--

Cheers

Dave Kearton


  #10  
Old July 1st 06, 02:48 PM posted to rec.aviation.military.naval
Ed Rasimus[_1_]
external usenet poster
 
Posts: 185
Default Air Force Aerial Refueling Methods: Flying Boom versus Hose-and-Drogue

On Sat, 01 Jul 2006 08:38:55 GMT, Guy Alcala
wrote:

Ed Rasimus wrote:

There have only been a few aircraft with dual system receiver
capability. The only two I can recall are the F-105 and the F-101.
I've got hundreds and maybe thousands of tanker hook-ups, but only a
handful of drogue sticks. In my limited experience in one aircraft
that had the capability, I will state unequivocally that stabbing a
drogue in the F-105 is the single hardest task I have ever performed
in an airplane. (Please no "mile-high club in a fighter" jokes.)


Ed, you only did that on a KC-135, right? If so, I submit that your sole drogue
experience is with the drogue universally acknowledged (by those with experience
of 'real' hose and drogues) to be the worst piece of **** ever to be stuck on a
tanker. Grabbing the first account to hand, John Trotti's ("Phantom over
Vietnam"):


I didn't say it was good, just that it was the hardest thing I ever
tried to do. I really don't relate it to the installation on the
tanker. It should have been fairly straightforward since the boom
extended the drogue well below any turbulence off the tanker. I
attributed it to the short probe (retractable) on the F-105.

When flying with F-100F Weasels, I never noted them having anywhere
near the difficulty that we did in getting gas using their wing
mounted probe.


There are a number of factors involved in the debate, not the least of
which is the transfer rate for boom vs drogue. In a heavily loaded
aircraft as part of a large package requiring large volume transfers,
the faster you can take gas the better off you are. Getting a flight
of four through the tanker and then getting them all topped off so
that you drop off with everyone at the same state is critical. Slow
the transfer rate or make the hookup tougher and things go to hell
quickly.


Then you have to add in the effects of multi-point refueling into the mix. BTW,
did you ever have a tanker unable to pass you gas?

Guy


I've never been behind a multiple receiver capable tanker. I don't
think I'd be very comfortable knowing that someone else was just a few
feet off my wingtip, not looking at me and trying to chase a drogue.
Throw in night or weather and the inevitable "Murphy" factor of
someone forgetting which side to come off the hookup after topping off
and the picture gets pretty scary.

Never had a tanker unable, but have heard of the situation. I relate a
personal screw-up story in Palace Cobra in which I got saved by an
emergency tanker and in that instance the controllers ran a second
tanker in two mile trail with the primary just to cover that
eventuality.

It was somewhat common in the F-4 to have receptacle door problems
which could usually be cured by the boomer hammering to pop it open or
tap it closed. Occasionally "knuckles" on the boom wouldn't grab the
receptacle (or vice-versa) and it simply took a request for the boomer
to keep pressure on the hookup and you could get gas.



Ed Rasimus
Fighter Pilot (USAF-Ret)
"When Thunder Rolled"
www.thunderchief.org
www.thundertales.blogspot.com
 




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