Aerial refueling is the process of refueling an aircraft without landing. This can be useful for sustaining long-range missions or when taking off with minimal fuel to facilitate the usage of heavier loadouts. There are two vehicles in the game that can facilitate aerial refueling:
- KC-49 Tanker: A jumbo jet fitted with a ventral refueling boom. Includes a set of Pilot Directional Indicator (PDI) lights for assistance with position guidance.
- MQ-31: A carrier-launchable drone equipped with a refueling boom like the KC-49. Arguably more difficult to refuel from due to the lack of a PDI light system and a lower boom gimbal range.
Aerial refueling is generally a difficult task for untrained pilots. It involves knowing how to move relative to another aircraft and being able to hold a specific position for extended time periods with very little room for error. As such, practice and patience are key to being able to make a successful refuel in the air.
Your first priority is going to be to know where your aircraft's refueling port is located:
- AV-42C: The port is located above the cockpit. Somewhat tricky to refuel with, as it can be difficult to know where to place the aircraft while in flight.
- F/A-26B: The port is located in front of the cockpit. Generally the easiest to refuel, and an excellent aircraft for starting out with.
- F-45A: The port is located to the right side of the cockpit. Arguably the hardest to refuel due to the added complication of having to place your aircraft slightly to the left of the tanker.
From there, follow these instructions to refuel with the most stable approach:
- Flip your Fuel Port switch.
- Move to ~50 meters behind the refueling aircraft.
- Adjust your speed until your distance to the aircraft remains constant for at least 3 seconds.
- Slowly increase your speed to meet up with the tanker. The slower your approach is, the better. Do not rush unless you are at critically-low fuel levels.
- Assume a position just underneath and behind the tanker. If your fuel port is open, the boom will automatically connect to your aircraft.
- (KC-49 ONLY) Follow the PDI guide lights underneath the tanker to hold a more stable position. If both lights are green, you're in an optimal position.
- Hold position, adjusting throttle and angle as needed, until your desired fuel level is reached. Ensure you do not overcorrect with your maneuvers.