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a. Aerial refueling is based on the requirement that participating aircraft operate and remain in specifically designated airspace.

1. Departure or other clearances which contain the track or anchor as a route element are not intended to authorize the aerial refueling operation itself.

A further specific ATC clearance for the conduct of aerial refueling is required except on an ALTRV.

2. Throughout the refueling operation, controller initiated heading assignments may not be effected without the concurrence of the tanker.

3. Each aircraft must receive a specific clearance prior to leaving the refueling track/anchor.  In the event of no clearance:

(a) The tanker(s) and receiver(s) will continue on the tanker's filed route and assigned block altitudes until a clearance to separate the flight can be obtained, or

(b) The aircraft will request an extension of the aerial refueling track.

Aerial refueling operations are terminated at the end of the refueling point unless an extension of the aerial refueling track is received.

(c) Aerial refueling operations are normally conducted on tracks or in anchor areas published in the DOD FLIP document "AP/1B."

b. There are certain mission requirements and operational considerations which may necessitate en route refueling operations or the establishment of special tracks/anchors not published in the FLIP document or in MOA/ATCAA/joint-use restricted areas when covered in letters of agreement.

1. En route refueling may be conducted between aircraft within a flight when the refueling is performed within the flights assigned altitude block/airspace.  When this occurs, the ARTCC/CERAP will be advised prior to commencing air refueling operations.

2. When special tracks/anchors must be established, the command processing the receiver aircraft shall ensure compliance with the provisions set forth in Section 6 of this chapter.

c. All refueling operations shall be conducted on an IFR flight plan at assigned altitudes/flight levels except as provided for in paragraph 10-6-12 of this chapter.

d. All aircraft conducting aerial refueling operations should request and be assigned at least three (3) consecutive altitudes/flight levels.

1. Refueling aircraft may use these altitudes/flight levels as required to accomplish refueling operations.  If additional altitudes are required to satisfy requirements, prior clearance shall be obtained from the appropriate ATC facility.

Additional altitudes shall not be requested/granted for practice of emergency break-away procedures.

2. The provisions of this paragraph do not apply when aircraft are operating in an ALTRV or when clearance has been granted by ATC for the aircraft to operate as an en route cell formation.


a. The user command requesting the establishment of a track/anchor shall assign to a specific unit the responsibility for scheduling all refueling operations on the track or anchor. The scheduling unit shall review the track/anchor for utilization to determine the need for retention.

b. The FAA or theater command headquarters, as appropriate, shall assign responsibility to a specific Air Traffic facility for coordinating refueling operations with the scheduling unit for each track/anchor.

c. Intermediate commands shall be responsible for developing standardized procedures for use by these units in scheduling refueling operations.

d. Any unit planning to conduct refueling operations shall coordinate each operation with the unit assigned the responsibility for scheduling the track/anchor.


a. MARSA begins between the tanker and receiver(s) when the tanker advises ATC that it is accepting MARSA.

b. After MARSA has been declared, controller assigned course or altitude changes prior to rendezvous completion will automatically void MARSA and are to be avoided.

c. Once rendezvous is completed:

1. Headings and altitudes assignments may be made with the tanker concurrence with MARSA remaining in effect.

2. Each tanker shall keep receiver(s) aircraft in either standard or nonstandard formation until further ATC clearances are received and standard separation is achieved.

3. Other nonparticipating aircraft may be cleared through the refueling block airspace with proper separation once the tanker and receiver(s) have proceeded down track.

d. MARSA ends between the tanker and receiver(s) when:

1. The tanker and receiver aircraft are vertically positioned within the air refueling airspace,

2. Standard ATC separation is established, and

3. ATC advises MARSA is terminated.


a. Scheduling criteria to ensure adequate airspace for aircraft conducting aerial refueling on tracks shall be as follows:

1. Simultaneous refueling in the same direction:

(a) Authorized for single tracks.  A 2,000-foot altitude separation shall be provided between assigned altitude blocks/airspace.

(b) Authorized for parallel tracks which have 30 NM separation between centerlines.  Refueling operations may be accomplished on each track at the same altitudes.  Multiple refueling may be accomplished on each track if the altitude separation required for single tracks is provided.

2. Simultaneous refueling in opposite directions:

(a) Not authorized on single tracks.

(b) May be authorized between single AR tracks, which are vertically separated by a minimum of 2,000 feet between altitude blocks.

The opposite direction procedure is not intended to apply to all refueling tracks, due to airspace configuration, traffic volume, etc.  However, ARTCC/CERAP's are expected to evaluate individual tracks for applicability upon request.  The processing of approved requests shall be in accordance with the existing procedures in Section 4 of this chapter.

(c) Authorized for parallel tracks which have 30 NM separation between centerlines.

3. MARSA is applicable between refueling aircraft operating on parallel tracks at the same altitude.

4. When necessary to reverse the direction of use of a track, a mandatory exit time shall be prescribed by the scheduling unit for the last refueling aircraft prior to reversing direction.  This exit time shall be the scheduled exit time plus 10 minutes.  A 25-minute sterile time shall be added to the mandatory exit time prior to scheduling the first tanker entry for the opposite direction refueling.

5. Minimum Entry Intervals:

(a) Point-Parallel Rendezvous - A 40-minute entry interval shall be planned between tankers at the same altitude except when operating in an ALTRV.  Tanker aircraft shall arrive at the ARCP no earlier than ARCP minus
20 minutes and depart no later than ARCP plus 10 minutes unless specifically cleared by the appropriate ATC facility for an extended delay.  If clearance for a longer delay cannot be granted or notification of receiver abort is received, the tanker shall proceed down track until an amended ATC clearance can be granted.  Receiver aircraft shall arrive at the ARCP no earlier than ARCP minus 5 minutes and depart no later than ARCP plus
10 minutes.

(b) En Route Cell Rendezvous - A minimum 20-minute entry interval shall be scheduled between air refueling cells at the same altitude and the same geographic point.  Both tanker(s) and receiver(s) shall arrive at the rendezvous point within +/- 5 minutes of the rendezvous control time.  (See FIG 10-5-1, FIG 10-5-2, and FIG 10-5-3.)

(c) Mixed Rendezvous - Air refueling tracks scheduled for an en route rendezvous followed by a point-parallel or vice versa, the minimum entry interval shall be 40 minutes.

b. Scheduling criteria to ensure adequate airspace for aircraft refueling within an anchor area shall be as follows:

1. Single Anchors - Simultaneous refueling is authorized for single anchors when standard separation is applied.

2. Multiple Anchors - Simultaneous refuelings may be accomplished in anchors which have 80 NM separation between anchor points.

3. Multiple air refueling in one anchor/anchor track - 2,000 feet vertical separation between altitude blocks shall be planned and used.

4. Minimum Entry Intervals - A 10-minute interval shall be maintained between the anchor area exit time of a tanker departing from an anchor and the anchor area entry time of a tanker arriving in the anchor at the same altitude.

The entry intervals outline in subparagraphs a and b are permissive and are not intended to preclude greater entry intervals which may be desirable or necessary to satisfy specific track/anchor restrictions or mission requirements.

c. Tankers may be scheduled to enter the track or anchor by direct routing to the ARCP or anchor point.

d. Tanker/receiver shall be scheduled to depart the track or anchor at specified navigation checkpoints or exits.  In event of no clearance, the tanker(s) and
receiver(s) will continue on the tanker's filed flight plan until a clearance to separate the flight can be obtained, or request an extension of the aerial refueling track, as appropriate.

e. MARSA may be applicable between a refueling operation and other aircraft specifically identified in the refueling schedule or approved by the scheduling unit to transit the published track/anchor.


a. Each aerial refueling track/anchor shall have a designated military unit responsible for scheduling all military flights intending to use the track/anchor.  If the designated military unit does not have a continuous point of contact; i.e., a unit subject to deployment or a unit not available during normal work days (ANG unit working Wednesday-Sunday), then an alternate scheduling agency shall be designated.

b. Each scheduling unit (primary or alternate) shall:

1. Submit to the assigned ATC facility at least 24 hours in advance a daily refueling schedule for each track or anchor including the:

(a) Requested refueling levels.

(b) Requested time of use.

(c) Call signs of tanker(s) and receiver(s).

The assigned ATC facility may advise the scheduling unit to discontinue submitting daily refueling schedules if concerned ATC facilities do not need advance information.

2. Advise the assigned ATC facility as soon as practicable of any cancellations to the schedule.

3. Obtain approval for the following from the assigned ATC facility:

(a) The schedule as submitted.

(b) Use of two altitude blocks simultaneously; e.g., 150B160 and 250B260.

(c) En-route Cell Rendezvous operations.

4. Coordinate with other scheduling units to resolve all conflicts in altitudes and/or times for tracks/anchors which cross, underlie, or are parallel prior to submitting to the assigned ATC facility.

5. Notify other scheduling units when assigned tracks/anchors are to be used or crossed during No-Notice exercises.

6. Clearly indicate the following information on the unit flying schedules:

(a) Track or anchor scheduled entry time.

(b) ARCT/anchor point control time.

(c) ARCP/anchor point departure time.

(d) Track or anchor scheduled/mandatory exit time.

c. Receiver Unit Responsibility - Each receiver unit shall:

1. Obtain refueling times for each desired track/anchor from the appropriate scheduling unit.

2. Provide call signs for the participating aircraft to the scheduling unit not later than 1600 hours (scheduling unit time) on Tuesday of the week preceding the scheduled activity.

3. Promptly notify the scheduling unit of any canceled or delayed refueling.

d. ATC Facility Responsibility - The assigned ATC facility shall forward the daily refueling schedule and any revisions to other concerned ATC facilities.   In the event disapproval is necessary, suitable alternate times, altitudes, tracks, or anchors shall be coordinated with the scheduling unit.


Instructions/information concerning the filing of flight plan data for aerial refueling operations is contained in the Flight Information Publication (FLIP) document.  The following data shall normally be included by refueling aircraft:

a. Refueling levels requested for the refueling operations.  All aircraft require
1,000 feet separation between the lowest tanker altitude and the applicable receiver altitude from the track ARIP to ARCP or from the ARIP to anchor point.  If this altitude separation cannot be provided, the participating aircraft are not authorized to proceed with the rendezvous.

b. ARCP/anchor point.

When operating in an air refueling anchor area, tankers are authorized to file directly to the anchor point without crossing an anchor area entry point.

c. ARIP.

Tankers conducting an en route rendezvous will also normally file to the ARIP.

d. Duration of delay at ARCP/anchor point.

e. Track or anchor number.

f. Track/anchor exit point.


Tanker aircraft or formation commander shall be responsible for:

a. Remaining within the assigned aerial refueling track.

Air refueling will not take place until MARSA is declared.

b. Notifying the appropriate ATC facility of all altitudes vacated and not anticipated for further use by refueling aircraft.  Such altitudes shall not be reoccupied without further ATC clearance.

c. Receiver navigation, regardless of the number of receivers, after rendezvous completion through completion of refueling operations (air refueling and MARSA have been terminated) except when under control responsibility of a military radar facility while in an anchor/anchor track area.

d. Maintaining communications with the appropriate ATC facility.

1. All communications during refueling operations, including those concerning the receivers, shall be between the ATC facility or military radar unit and tanker.

2. To the extent practical, receivers shall establish communications with the tanker prior to or when departing the ARIP on the specified air refueling frequency.

3. The tanker shall advise receivers if the clearance to conduct air refueling has or has not been received.

4. Tanker(s) will assume position reporting responsibility for the receivers upon rendezvous completion.

e. Requesting further en route clearance/altitude assignment:

1. From the ATC facility for both the receiver and tanker at least
5 minutes prior to refueling completion, in accordance with
paragraph 10-5-9, except when both aircraft are operating on an approved altitude reservation (ALTRV).

2. Through the radar controller when operating in refueling anchors with a military radar unit (MRU).  At least 5 minutes prior to completing refueling operations, the military radar facility shall forward requests to the assigned ATC facility and subsequently relay ATC clearances for the tanker and receiver aircraft from the ATC facility.

f. Vertically positioning aircraft prior to reaching the planned exit point, to facilitate the safe and efficient transfer of responsibility from the military, under the provisions of MARSA, to the ATC facility upon completion of refueling operations.  The vertical separation of receivers and tanker aircraft shall be accomplished within the assigned altitudes.

g. Providing each receiver, upon request, with the aircraft's position at the completion of refueling operations.  Additional information concerning amendments of changes to the receiver's ATC clearance shall also be provided as appropriate.

h. Coordinate new aerial refueling track times with the scheduler if unable to meet the scheduled ARCT(s) and minimum entry intervals.


Receiver aircraft shall be responsible for:

a. Initiating the request for altitude change in sufficient time to reach the required air refueling block altitude prior to the ARIP.

b. Squawking normal when separation from tanker is greater than three (3) miles.

c. Maintaining two-way radio contact with ATC until released by ATC to the tanker.


The tanker commander shall receive specific ATC clearance from the appropriate ATC facility for the following:

a. Entry to/exit from assigned aerial refueling altitude block.

b. Altitudes requested for tanker and receiver aircraft upon completion of air refueling.

c. Routing for each aircraft or formation flight when:

1. Exiting the refueling track prior to or beyond the exit point, or

2. Different from the flight plan routing.

d. Extending the refueling operation beyond the track/anchor exit point due to adverse winds, mission requirements, etc.

e. Use of altitudes in excess of those for which specific clearance has been granted (i.e., tobogganing).

During refueling, altitude and temperature conditions may exist which decrease the receiver's available thrust and maneuverability.  In this event, the receiver may request a "toboggan" in order to receive a full fuel onload.  The toboggan maneuver is accomplished by the tanker descending wings level at refueling airspeed and a constant rate of 200-300 FPM with the receiver maintaining the refueling contact.


Radar vector assistance for rendezvous may be given by the ATC facility when requested by participating aircraft when appropriate altitude separation is provided.   Assistance shall be terminated when the receiver has visual contact with the tanker.


The appropriate ATC facility shall ensure that:

a. Standard IFR separation is maintained until MARSA is declared by the tanker.

b. After MARSA is declared, receiver aircraft are released to tanker C/R frequency departing the ARIP, traffic conditions permitting, or unless otherwise coordinated.

It is essential that receivers be released to the tanker no later than the ARIP.  If ATC cannot release the receivers, additional instructions must be provided immediately.   Any delay in releasing the receivers significantly complicates the air refueling.

c. Upon request, receiver or tanker aircraft are provided assistance, to the extent possible, to confirm the other's position.

d. In the application of vertical separation based on altitude vacating reports, the altitude vacated shall not be used until the aircraft has reported reaching the next
IFR altitude.

e. If necessary to assign SODAR aircraft altitude blocks which are outside the vertical limits of the tracks, a vertical separation minimum of 2,000 feet will be maintained between assigned altitude blocks.

f. An ATC clearance is issued and acknowledged through the tanker aircrew for each aircraft or formation flight:

1. Refueling anchor.

2. Refueling track when exiting prior to/beyond the exit point, or if routing is different from the flight plan route.

g. An en route altitude assignment is issued for each aircraft or formation flight exiting a refueling track at the flight plan exit point.

h. Receiver aircraft that have been cleared to conduct air refueling and have departed the ARIP are issued instructions pertaining to the operation of the transponder in accordance with mileage parameters listed in the pertinent paragraphs on Military Aerial Refueling in FAA Order 7110.65.

i. The ARTCC/CERAP shall notify the appropriate tie-in AFSS/FSS at least 2 hours in advance when an established aerial refueling track/anchor will be activated if all or part of the activity will take place outside of applicable SUA or Class A airspace.

j. The tie-in AFSS/FSS shall transmit a NOMAM/D of this planned refueling activity.  The AFSS/FSS(s) will provide the notice information to pilots during inflight/preflight briefings.


Aircraft experiencing two-way communications failure during the conduct of aerial refueling shall continue flight in accordance with the following procedures:

a. Squawk code 7600 for at least two (2) minutes prior to exiting the track or anchor.  After exit, continue squawk in accordance with "Procedures for Two-Way Radio Failure IFR-VFR" set forth in the DOD Flight Information Handbook.

b. Tanker aircraft which have not received altitude instructions beyond the exit point shall exit the track or anchor at the highest altitude specified in the clearance for the refueling portion of the flight and proceed in accordance with "Procedures for Two-Way Radio Failure IFR-VFR" set forth in the DOD Flight Information Handbook.

c. Receiver aircraft which have not received altitude instructions beyond the exit point shall exit the track or anchor at the lowest altitude specified in the clearance for the refueling portion of the flight and proceed in accordance with "Procedures for Two-Way Radio Failure IFR-VFR" as set forth in the DOD Flight Information Handbook.

FIG 10-5-1

En Route Cell Rendezvous for Air Refueling



FIG 10-5-2

En Route Cell Rendezvous for Air Refueling
Turbojet Tanker/Tactical Fighter

FIG 10-5-3

En Route Cell Rendezvous for Air Refueling
Turbo Prop Tanker/Tactical Fighter



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