Aerial Refuelling Probes

Aerial Refuelling Probes

Design, manufacture and qualification of Aerial Refuelling Probes on both civil (ERJ 145) and military (C-130) platforms, with support provided from the Falklands conflict to present day, for multiple global customers.

Air-to-air refuelling, or in-flight refuelling (IFR), increases the possible range of an aircraft, allowing the operator greater mission flexibility while also offering a potential time and cost saving. Fixed-mast solutions are simple and reliable additions to the aircraft that are straightforward and inexpensive to maintain.

We have extensive experience of providing IFR receiver probes for a variety of aircraft types, ranging from large military tankers and transport platforms to business jets.

Our IFR probes have been installed on:

  • Lockheed L1011 Tristar
  • Embraer 145 Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft
  • Lockheed Martin C-130K Mk1 and Mk3 Hercules
  • Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules

The complete solution

We can deliver the complete solution from design and manufacture to installation, testing, certification and support. For example, we are currently the sole supplier of IFR probes to Lockheed Martin for the C-130J. We carry out the design, analysis and manufacturing in house, and the completed probes, along with the in-fuselage centre-wing connection kits, are shipped out to the Marietta Final Assembly Line. These probes are already installed on the UK, Italian, Indian and Australian C-130J fleets. All non-US operated C-130J aircraft have the provision to support a Marshall IFR probe.

Our ‘end-to-end’ capability means we consider the whole picture: aircraft speeds, subsequent re-fuelling angles and flow levels.

Our externally-mounted IFR probe modifications typically comprise:

  • Refuelling MA-2 nozzle
  • Refuelling mast
  • Inner refuel line, including necessary flex couplings and spacers
  • Purge line, which can be linked to an inert gas system if required
  • Mass balance installation for dynamic performance
  • Weak link, for safety in the event of separation failure
  • Breakaway / shut-off valve, for fuel containment
  • Metal or composite fairing – Marshall can manufacture both, and ensure aerodynamic integration
  • Structural mounting, capable of supporting the mast without constraining it
  • Nozzle illumination – installation of day- and night-compatible lighting
  • Flame arrestor / isolator, for lightning protection
  • Fuel and moisture drainage

We can also provide the following additional modifications to support or enhance the in-flight refuelling capability, if required by the customer:

  • Cockpit panel modification to accommodate the IFR operation
  • Avionic and control logic integration
  • Fuel line penetration repair
  • Fuselage reinforcement to support the mast installation
  • Installation of an in-fuselage dual-wall system to connect the probe to the aircraft fuel gallery

If the aircraft is likely to carry out frequent operations for which a probe is not required, we can design it to be removable, reducing drag and lowering the weight penalty.

As part of our in-flight refuelling modifications, we are also able to:

  • Perform static and structural testing, such as the bending assessment of the A400M Atlas IFRP
  • Carry out fatigue and damage tolerance analysis, advising inspection and maintenance intervals
  • Analyse flammability exposure assessments and lightning testing to size flame arrestor LRU
  • Provide through-life support, spares and technical publications

We can follow our customers’ specifications or harness our three decades of experience to work closely together with them and help define what is needed from the modification.Whatever the requirements, we promise a technically-sound solution that caters for every eventuality.