Air Refueling Archive

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KC-135 Boom

KC-135 Boom

A KC-135's boom is lowered and extended for maintenance.

This is a nice picture that shows a closeup of the KC-135’s boom. In this picture the boom is not fully extended and still has approximately 6′ before it reaches full extension. The colorful marking on the boom give the receiver crew a visual indication of the extension of the boom. During night operations the markings are illuminated by ultraviolet lamps that causes them to fluoresce.

Image Source:

Daniel P.

March 7, 2010 - Posted by | 2000s, KC-135R | , ,


  1. How is the probe controlled to extend or retract, and to keep up with motion of a receiving aircraft during fuel transfer? Is it pushed and pulled in and out by an actuation system, by the receiving aircraft, or something else?

    Comment by Bob | April 12, 2010 | Reply

    • The boom is extended and retracted hydraulically by means of a hydraulic motor and a chain and cable loop. Once the nozzle is locked in the receiver’s receptacle the boom is free (after overcoming hydraulic relief valves) to telescope in and out to follow the receiver’s forward and aft motion.

      Comment by Boom | April 12, 2010 | Reply

  2. do you know what the technical name of those boom markings? I was a crew chief on these aircraft, and just called them PDL boom markings as they are used in conjunction with the PDL system.

    Comment by Dale Jackson | July 30, 2013 | Reply

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