List of tanker aircraft

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Two fighter jets approach a refueling tanker, while four others wait their turn.

This is a list of tanker aircraft used for aerial refueling of another craft while in flight.

Refueling methods[edit]

Looped hose
The first commercial method employed a hose which was held slack in a trailing half-loop behind both aircraft. The receiving aircraft flew just below the tanker and deployed a steel line, which the tanker caught with its own grappling line and drew in. The tanker then connected the first steel line to the refueling hose and paid it out as the receiving aircraft reeled it back in.
Probe-and-drogue
The tanker trails a flexible hose with a stabilising drogue on the end and the receiving aircraft manoeuvers to insert a short probe into the receptacle in the drogue.
Flying boom
The tanker extends a hinged telescopic boom with aerodynamic control surfaces on its end. An operator "flies" it to match up with a receptacle on the receiving aircraft, which then moves forwards to make the connection.
Wing-to-wing
A hybrid method in which the tanker trails a flexible hose from a wing and the receiving aircraft catches it in a hooked receptacle under one of its own wings.
Buddy refueling
An aircraft type is fitted with both supply and receiving hardware, so that one aircraft can refuel another of the same type.

Gallery[edit]

These images illustrate various aerial refueling methods.

List of aircraft[edit]

Type Based on Country Class Method Date Status No. Notes
Airbus A310 MRTT A310 EU Jet Probe-and-drogue 5 2 for Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), as CC-150T Polaris
Airbus A330 MRTT Airbus A330-200 EU Jet Probe-and-drogue In RAF service it is exclusively hose-and-drogue and is known as Voyager KC2 and KC3, with limitations such as; no self-refueling capability and only the KC3 model (five on order) is fitted with a fuselage mounted high capacity hose-and-drogue system. Australian, Emirati and Saudi operators have a refueling boom in addition to wing mounted hose-and-drogue.
Airbus A400M EU Turboprop Probe-and-drogue 2013
Airbus A330 MRTT Airbus A330-200 Flying boom Production

Versions operated by the Australian, Emirati and Saudi air forces are equipped with both a flying boom and hose-and-drogue refueling units.

Avro Lancaster UK Propeller Probe-and-drogue Operational
Avro Lincoln UK Propeller Probe-and-drogue Operational [1]
Avro Vulcan K.2 Vulcan UK Jet Probe-and-drogue Operational Saw action in the Falklands War
Blackburn Buccaneer UK Jet Probe-and-drogue Production Buddy refueling.
Boeing 707 US Jet Probe-and-drogue Variants: Colombian Air Force Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker with Multi-Point Refueling System PODS. 2 for RCAF as CC-137 Husky.
Boeing 767 US Jet Probe-and-drogue Conversion by IAI. FAC, a 767-200ER fitted with two ARP3 refueling pods under the wings, and cargo door.
Boeing KB-29M B-29 Superfortress US Propeller Probe-and-drogue earlier versions used a "grappling hose" system; later models used a true probe-and-drogue.
Boeing KB-50 B-50 Superfortress US Propeller Probe-and-drogue an improved model of the B-29 Superfortress.
Boeing KB-29P B-29 Superfortress Flying boom
Boeing KB-50 B-50 Superfortress Flying boom a B-29 derivative
Boeing KC-97 Stratofreighter C-97 Stratofreighter Flying boom another B-29 Superfortress descendant
Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker Boeing 707 Flying boom Production Boom can be fitted preflight with a drogue adapter. AdlA KC-135 Stratotankers use the probe-and-drogue system. MPRS models will have two drogue hose reels (pods) at the wingtips.
Boeing 747 747-100 Flying boom 4 KC-33A a modified Boeing 747 which lost in the USAF bidding competition to the KC-10 Extender. 4 sold to Iran.
Boeing KC-767 Boeing 767-200ER Flying boom Production With cockpit updates was (eventually) the winning entry in the USAF KC-X competition.
Boeing KC-46 Pegasus 767-200ER Flying boom Production USAF designation for Boeing's updated winning KC-767 entry.
Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet US Jet Probe-and-drogue Equipped for buddy refueling as "Strike tankers". Taking over tanking duties as the S-3 is retired from service.
Dassault-Breguet Super Étendard France Jet Probe-and-drogue Buddy refueling
Dassault Rafale France Jet Probe-and-drogue Buddy refueling.
de Havilland Sea Vixen Probe-and-drogue Buddy refueling.
Douglas KA-3B Skywarrior US Propeller Probe-and-drogue Dedicated tanker variant of the Skywarrior. Primary US Navy tanker from the Vietnam War until retirement prior to Desert Storm.
Douglas A-4 Skyhawk US Jet Probe-and-drogue Buddy refueling.
Embraer KC-390 Probe-and-drogue Cobham air-to-air refuelling system
Grumman KA-6D Intruder Probe-and-drogue Dedicated tanker variant of the Intruder. Attack variants of the A-6 also capable of buddy tanking
Handley Page Type W Type W UK Biplane Looped hose 1935 Operational 1 Early trials and demonstrations by Flight Refuelling Ltd.
Handley Page Victor Probe-and-drogue B(K).1A, K.1, K.1A and K.2 variants
Ilyushin Il-78 Midas Il-76 USSR Probe-and-drogue
Lockheed HC-130 Hercules and KC-130 Hercules C-130 Hercules Probe-and-drogue Variants: Royal Canadian Air Force modified C-130H, Royal Air Force modified C-130K.
Lockheed S-3 Viking Probe-and-drogue The former primary US Navy carrier-based tanker, equipped for buddy tanking
Lockheed TriStar Probe-and-drogue K1 and KC1 variants deployed by the RAF
LTV A-7 Corsair II Probe-and-drogue Equipped for buddy tanking in US Navy and Greek Air Force service
McDonnell Douglas KC-10 Extender McDonnell Douglas DC-10 Flying boom Production

Also has a retractable hose and drogue that can be selected in-flight. Can be fitted with two underwing pods (similar to the KC-135's MPRS) capable of simultaneously refueling two receiver aircraft (Wing Air Refueling Pods or WARPs). The Royal Netherlands Air Force operates two KDC-10s; former civil aircraft modified to a standard similar to the KC-10.

Mikoyan MiG-29K Probe-and-drogue Buddy refueling
Myasishchev M-4-2 M-4 bomber Probe-and-drogue
Myasishchev 3MS-2 3M bomber Probe-and-drogue
Sukhoi Su-24M Probe-and-drogue equipped for buddy refueling with the UPAZ container as "Strike tankers"
Sukhoi Su-33 Probe-and-drogue Buddy refueling
Supermarine Scimitar Probe-and-drogue Buddy refueling
Tupolev Tu-16N Tu-16 bomber Probe-and-drogue
Tupolev Tu-16Z Wing-to-wing
Vickers Valiant Probe-and-drogue B(PR)K.1 and B(K).1 variants served with the RAF
Vickers VC10 Probe-and-drogue C1K, K2 K3 and K4 variants.
Xian H-6U Probe-and-drogue

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-10-30. Retrieved 2009-11-17.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)