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Section 1. GENERAL

10-1-1. PURPOSE

This chapter sets forth policy and criteria for the establishment of aerial refueling tracks and anchors and the air traffic control aspects of refueling operations.  Administrative guidelines are
also provided concerning the design, development, coordination, and publication of aerial refueling tracks and anchors on a global basis.  Effective utilization of this information will permit aerial refueling to be conducted with a minimum of planning and will ensure maximum utilization of airspace.  Refueling tracks/anchors are published in DOD FLIP and have been established for universal use by all military services.


Approved FAA/U.S. military ATC procedures and separation standards will apply between military aerial refueling operations and other airspace users.  In order to provide for the safe and efficient conduct of refueling operations, aerial refueling tracks/ anchors will be planned to have a minimal impact on the air traffic system and still satisfy user needs.

Approval of an aerial refueling tract/anchor shall not preclude ATC from using such airspace after the completion of the rendezvous, provided that separation is applied in accordance with FAA Order 7110.65 between nonparticipating aircraft and participating aircraft within the aerial refueling track/anchor.


The U.S. military services have agreed, to the maximum extent possible, aerial refueling will be conducted on existing published tracks/anchor tracks and to conduct aerial refueling operations
in accordance with the provisions of this chapter which provides standard guidance for all user commands involved in refueling operations.


Standard separation (in accordance with FAA Order 7110.65) will be applied to aerial refueling aircraft.


FAA regional air traffic division managers (theater commanders in areas not under FAA jurisdiction) may authorize deviations from provisions of this chapter when military requirements cannot be supported within the established standards.  Approved deviations shall be fully coordinated and should contain provisions to ensure a level of safety equivalent to standards set forth in this chapter.

Theater commanders must comply with host nation requirements.


The following is a basic chronology of the events for a typical air refueling operation in tracks and anchors.  The exact sequence may vary as dictated by operational circumstances.  For air refueling tracks, the en route rendezvous differs from the point-parallel rendezvous (see paragraph 10-5-4a, 5(a)) only in that the tanker does not delay at the air refueling control point (ARCP) and both tanker and receiver aircraft enter the aerial refueling airspace simultaneously.

a. Aerial Refueling Track.

Normally, the tanker aircraft enters the track at the ARCP, and the receiver aircraft enters at the air refueling initial point (ARIP).

1. Tanker requests delay at the ARCP and advises ATC of the requested aerial refueling block altitudes.

2. ATC approves delay and issues clearance, or advises tanker to expect clearance, for the air refueling block.

If the delay is approved, the aircraft will enter the refueling pattern.  If a hold is issued, aircraft will enter a standard holding pattern or as assigned by ATC.

3. Tanker enters orbit pattern airspace for delay at ARCP.

If no clearance is received, aircraft will hold in the direction of the air refueling pattern until their filed air refueling control time
(ARCT).  If no clearance is received by the ARCT, the aircraft will proceed down the AR track on its flight plan route; refueling is not authorized.

4. Receivers are cleared to requested altitude and IFR separation is established prior to ARIP and release to tanker communication rendezvous (C/R) frequency.

5. Tanker declares MARSA.

6. ATC releases receiver to tanker C/R frequency not later than the ARIP.

7. ATC issues clearance to conduct aerial refueling along the track, and issues block altitude clearance, if not previously accomplished.

8. ATC shall ensure that nonparticipating aircraft remain clear of the area until the rendezvous is complete.

9. Tanker and receiver aircraft complete rendezvous and proceed down track.  During aerial refueling, the tanker is responsible for receiver aircraft navigation along the track and for all tanker/receiver communications with ATC.

10. Tanker advises ATC of tanker and receiver end aerial refueling altitude requests at least five (5) minutes prior to exit.

11. At or prior to the exit point, ATC issues tanker and receiver altitude clearances, transponder codes, and if requested, amended routing.

12. Prior to exit, tanker vertically positions the aircraft in the formation within the air refueling airspace to facilitate breakup at the exit point (normally, tanker at highest altitude of aerial refueling block and receiver at lowest altitude).

13. MARSA is terminated when standard ATC separation is established and ATC advises MARSA is terminated.

b. Anchor Aerial Refueling.

1. Anchor aerial refueling operations involve the same basic procedural elements as required for track refueling, except that both tanker and receiver aircraft file a delay in the anchor area and all air refueling activity is conducted within the anchor as per paragraph 10-3-2.

2. Additional requirements, such as, alternate entry/exit points, MRU procedures, etc., shall be specified in a letter of agreement, as required.


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