Today I saw a business jet, 10 or 12 passenger or so fly over, evidently on approach to Whitehouse Naval Outlying Field (NOLF) (KNEN), said jet had some sort of probe on the nose and was painted white. I was not able to discern any markings. Does the USA government operate any business jets with mid-air refueling capability? Another obvious question is: why would a passenger jet fly into NOLF?

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    $\begingroup$ Its possible you are looking at a test platform aircraft with an instrumentation "spike" on the nose to take clean air measurements ahead of the aircraft. Most mid-air refueling systems are not spikes but nozzle receptacles, the only time I really see probes used is on helicopter's. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Sep 7, 2016 at 18:35
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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to aviation.SE! It may have been a pitot tube, we have a few questions about that: here, here, here. $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Sep 7, 2016 at 19:08
  • $\begingroup$ @RonBeyer -- outside the US, probe and drogue dominates (USAF is really the only bunch that prefers the boom) $\endgroup$ Sep 7, 2016 at 23:34

2 Answers 2


Does the USA government operate any bizjets with mid-air refueling capability?

Yes. According to this article, it's being used by the Air Force and the Navy for autonomous air-refueling tests.

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As a surrogate for the carrier-based drone, the Lear is assessing its autonomous refueling capabilities and performance for both Navy and Air Force aerial refueling techniques.

This particular Lear in the photo was active just last week:

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This looks like a test to me.

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There is also this, but it doesn't have the probe.

  • $\begingroup$ Almost as equally possible $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Sep 7, 2016 at 20:05
  • $\begingroup$ MSA is a "maritime survellance aircraft", so its possible its going there too. The Lear is privately owned as well, by a company called Calspan Aerospace. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Sep 7, 2016 at 20:10
  • $\begingroup$ The second one doesn't look like it has a receptor for the refueling boom, it's probably used to train pilots refueling procedures (especially with the tactical and strategic aircraft like F-22s and B-2s in short supply it's often convenient to use other types for procedure training). $\endgroup$
    – jwenting
    Sep 8, 2016 at 11:22

The answer is Yes civilian aircraft register the one in the picture above is the learjet25 operated by [Calspan][1] is an inflight simulator, This aeroplane used to travel worldwide to charter the aircraft for various military and Civilian Test Pilot School like NTPS ITPS (check wikipedia)

Last evaluation I did was simulating PIO (Pilot Induced Oscilation) in simulating the behaviour of one of unstable fighter aircraft that crashed during prototype.

the Idea of inflight simulation is to check the safety features, with as close as its fidelity as possible to check the stability and control characteristics.

Imagine that this small aircraft can operate with mathematical model of any aeroplane even A380 if the mathematical model is available.

In this case, the refuelling probe install, is to evaluate HQR Handling quality Rating) of the certain aircraft in performing air to air refuelling to avoid accident / incident. I have investigated one of the accident of military aircraft that was not equipped with FDR and one of the technique is to use rare light bulb analysis.

Nevertheless, this aircraft is very popular flight testing device in either test pilot school or even aircraft research and development of aircraft manufacure, we have tested prototype of N250 using this calspan Lear25 and it was a great tools


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