My first guess is that they would catastrophically fail - but I also read the Eurocopter Cougar has propeller blades that will withstand the impact of a 20mm round (I'm guessing other military helicopters are similar).

Is it likely that the probe could bounce off or is it a pretty much guaranteed byebye scenario?

Also could the rotor become entangled in the hose or would it simply slice it?


2 Answers 2


It would chop it right off.

Watch the video. It's fun. When the helicopter pitches up right after refueling, the rotor disc cannot follow the movement (its hinges allow the blades to pitch up and down, and inertia makes it change its plane of rotation only slowly). The refueling probe is cut cleanly in half.

However, I would not try this on purpose. The risk of damaging a blade is considerable. I am sure the rotor blades needed to be replaced after that incident.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I'll keep it in mind if for the extremely unlikely scenario that I would ever have to refuel a helicopter in mid air. DONT CRASH DONT DIE OHNO DONT HIT THE PROBE. Thanks. $\endgroup$
    – papirtiger
    Jun 26, 2015 at 4:57

Apparently it snips the probe off. No report of wether the rotor was damaged, the probe may have been built with this in mind, and thus out of weaker materials than the rotor blades.


  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I don't know, but if it was me, I'd much rather have what essentially amounts to a hose cut off, than the rotor blades. And design both accordingly. With plenty of margin for error. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Jun 26, 2015 at 12:42

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .