The Russian Defence Ministry published a video of fighter and bomber aircraft of the Russian Air Force, as well as "Vityaz" and "Falcons of Russia" aerobatic teams refuelling in midair.
Aerial refuelling is a necessary element in the training of pilots of fighter and bomber aircraft. The technology makes it possible to significantly increase the combat range of airborne attack aircraft and perform tasks at a greater distance from basing sites.
All aircraft capable of performing refuelling in the air are called tanker aircraft, but in reality they can be:
- refuelling aircraft designed specifically for this purpose (rarely);
- transport-refuelling aircraft with fixed or removable refuelling equipment, which can both refuel other aircraft and transport passengers and cargo;
- combat tanker aircraft with temporarily installed removable refuelling equipment.
The midair refuelling system in the air can be either rigid or flexible. The rigid system is the telescopic bar, which the operator of the tanker aircraft needs to insert into the fuel receiver of the refuelling aircraft. The flexible is a hose with a cone.
Receiving fuel during one refuelling session lasts for no more than 6 minutes for a helicopter, 20 minutes for a bomber and 45 minutes for a tanker aircraft. Refuelling can be possible in the absence of turbulence and temperatures of not lower than 56 degrees below zero at speeds from 300 to 900 km/h, although pilots prefer to carry it out at speeds of 520-650 km/h, at altitudes from 300 meters to 9 kilometres (usually 6-9 kilometres).
The idea of midair refuelling was born in Russia in 1917. Four years later, it was patented in the US by Russian immigrant Alexander Seversky. It was implemented for the first time in 1923 in the United States with the help of a flexible system. In the USSR, refuelling in the air was first conducted in 1933 with a reconnaissance aircraft. In 1934, the British were the first to refuel a flying bomber plane.