What has driven the decision to place the refueling receptacle behind the pilot and to rear of the plane. Is this simply driven by the change away from drogue and probe and the location decided by the preference of the pilots, the manufacturers or the service, any ideas?

As earlier aircraft appear to of a variety of locations of the receptacle.

I realize the pilot does not have to fly the probe into its receptacle, that is done by the tanker operator.

F-15 port receptacle

B1 Nose receptacle

F-35 back receptacle A-10 Nose receptacle

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    $\begingroup$ It seems the preffered location (safety-wise) is behind the cockpit, ie the F-16 and the F-35 (only on the A model. the B model has the VTOL fan in that location and is using drogue and probe anyway. C is also using drogue and probe) Except that: On the F-15 you have the airbrake, and then you'd get too close to the tail fins. Same holds for the A-10 (too close to the engines/tail fins). On the B-1B there is the weapon bay ( I guess you wouldn't want fuel flowing around that...) $\endgroup$
    – DeepSpace
    Aug 15, 2017 at 9:00
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    $\begingroup$ B2 Also has it further rear also, F-22 also, the only reason to move it further back on the aircraft is to move the probe away from locations that damage is less consequential. As in not screwing with the stealth capabilities, sensors and aerodynamic performance. $\endgroup$
    – jCisco
    Aug 15, 2017 at 12:10
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    $\begingroup$ Side note: Dassault fighter jets (Mirage 2000, Rafale) have them in front of cockpit. $\endgroup$
    – kebs
    Mar 27, 2018 at 20:55
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    $\begingroup$ Also: OP statement that the probe is driven by the operator is not always true. Again, French airplanes need the pilot to fly the plane "into" the cone. $\endgroup$
    – kebs
    Mar 27, 2018 at 20:57
  • $\begingroup$ @kebs: The OP was referring to the boom of flying-boom systems, not the probe of probe'n'drogue systems (yes, I know it was a poor choice of words on their part). $\endgroup$
    – Vikki
    Apr 21, 2020 at 19:58

1 Answer 1


Usually just a matter of constraints on where the engineer can physically fit the fueling port with the limits that it must be an upper surface, not too near critical components that may be damaged, and have minimal aerodynamic impact. The plane must also deal with the substantial change in center of mass and angle of attack[required lift] during the fueling. All these factors vary with the design goals of each model.

The drogue and probe method is used by the US navy and most international air forces. This is a very adaptable system that can fuel multiple small planes from wing mounted hoses on one tanker or small plane to small plane, and even works with helicopters(using a very long probe); the down side is that maneuvering to couple is more difficult and each drogue design has a narrow speed range. The probe must be in located view of the pilot.

The port and flying boom method is used by the United States air force; it was developed by the strategic air command early in the cold war for strategic bombers. As such the flow rate of the flying boom is an order of magnitude larger than the hose and probe, and it can be used across a very wide speed range without changing parts, with added benefit of no probe to effect drag, radar signal, or to get damaged; the downside is the tanker can only serve one plane at a time, the port must be on an upper surface, and the tanker needs a boom operator.


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