Down low is where we make our money. At 1500 MSL, about 375. Get up to altitude, the fans are darn efficient, but have no power. I've been stuck behind KC-10s up at FL 220. I'm at max power, he's at a deck angle of 15 degrees, flaps @15, and at 205 on the speed, bitching all to hell (and rightfully so). I eventually have to have him tobaggan (descend) so I can effect a hookup.
Air-air refueling is a pain in the ass. Especially when I was deploying to Afghan. Was flying in IMC off the tanker's wingtip nav light since I couldn't see the tanker well. Time to A/R, I have to drop down and cross under moving my eyes from the wingtip to the #1 engine when it appears out of the clouds/rain then along the wing to the boom when it appears out of the clouds. Try flying with your only reference being a solitary A/R boom surrounded by clouds, talk about Spatial D hell.
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Was flying in IMC off the tanker's wingtip nav light since I couldn't see the tanker well.
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Why do this in IMC? Was there no clear FL available? Seems extremely risky, especially if the boom operator can't see you or the fuel port.
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Risky as hell, but you make do with what you have. When we transit, we get an ALTRV reserved. At the time, we were approaching the East Coast heading out to the Atlantic. The WX sucked up to about FL 260 (so the tanker said) and we can't operate up there very well. Either way, Boston ARTCC couldn't, or wouldn't, let us change altitudes. I couldn't be sure, since the tanker is the one that talks to ATC and handles all the comm with them, the fighters are on a discreet UHF with the tanker. In fact, the we're on the tankers flight plan. For the fuel port, it's on the nose of the A-10 right in front of the cockpit. I was able to make out the boom and just see the boomers station from beyond the clouds/precip rushing past between us. Couldn't see the director lights under the fuselage, but no matter, there's backup visual references to use if you can see them. We usually try to transit low-medium block; about 16,000 to FL 190 max. We're heavyweight when we transit (for an underpowered plane) with a single bag of gas hanging underneath the centerline (4000 lbs), a 600lb ECM pod on one wingtip station, one or two AIM-9s on the opposite wing station, two travel pods (@350 lbs each), and a full gun.