Aerial Refueling

Aerial refueling is a technique whereby a tanker aircraft transfers fuel to a receiver aircraft while in flight. This capability was developed after much trial and error, and its refinement has dramatically altered the use of combat aircraft throughout the world by allowing aircraft to carry out missions while not being based within a theater of operations. This entry discusses historical developments and then describes the aircraft, systems, and techniques used for aerial refueling.


Early Developments

The Russian naval aviator Alexander P. de Seversky first speculated about aerial refueling during World War I. Following the war, Seversky immigrated to the United States, became an aeronautical engineer, and developed and patented the first aerial refueling device. The Seversky system used a grapple method whereby a crewmember in the ...

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