Multipoint Aerial Refueling: A Review and Assessment
The U.S. Air Force currently relies principally on boom-and-receptacle technology to conduct aerial-refueling operations for fixed-wing aircraft. With this approach, a single aircraft at a time may be refueled behind a tanker. An alternative concept, called multipoint aerial refueling, uses probe-and-rogue technology to enable more than one aircraft to refuel simultaneously from a tanker. The work described in this documented briefing reviews five studies to determine whether any general conclusions may be drawn regarding the merits of multipoint aerial refueling. It also describes the results of a RAND analysis of how multipoint refueling might have affected tanker requirements during a single high-tempo day of Desert Storm operations. The work is part of a larger effort undertaken by RAND at the request of the Commission on Roles and Missions of the Armed Forces, to review and evaluate "current allocations among the Armed Forces of roles, missions, and functions" and to "make recommendations for changes in the current definition and distribution of those roles, missions and functions" (National Defense Authorization Act for FY 1994). As such, the document should be of interest to those Air Force and other U.S. military personnel, analysts, policymakers, and operational commanders who are broadly concerned with the employment of forces and with aerial-refueling operations in particular.
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REVIEW OF PAST ANALYSES
GULF WAR DAY D+32 ANALYSIS
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additional offload points aerial-refueling operations AFSAA study air campaign Air Mobility Command aircraft carriers airspace AMC study analysis anchorpoint tactics approach ARCT assumed assumptions benefits of multipoint boom combat Combine w/Mission day D+32 Distance to target documented briefing equipped fighter aircraft fighter operations fighter packages fighter-employment operations flexibility and interoperability Frontier Technology Fuel-transfer rates Gulf Gulf War high-tempo inventory large number limited numbers multipoint aerial refueling multipoint capability multipoint operations multipoint program multipoint refueling multipoint tankers Navy and Marine number of fighters number of tankers Offload availability onload rate Operation Desert Storm Operational intensity packages of fighters planners planning precision-guided munitions Probe receiver availability probe-equipped receivers probe/drogue technology RAND study receiver aircraft result reviewed Safety/NEF scheduled second MRC Southwest Asia tanker aircraft tanker force structure Tanker tactics tankers to support Track length track operations transfer rates transition to multipoint U.S. Air Force U.S. Navy USAF