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YAAARR - Yet Another Air-to-Air Refuelling Recommendation


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Refueling... In the air... I think it may have been mentioned a couple of times during the last decade of DCS so forgive me for bringing it up again.

I just want to share something that, for me, has been the single most useful/helpful thing to consider during air-to-air refuelling, which I've not seen mentioned in any of the recent AAR discussions I've read.

I call it: The "BOX".


Put simply, 'all' you need to do is stick your aircraft's nose into the box, slowly enough and steadily enough for the connection to 'snap in'.

Now then, the only slight and very tiny issue (hardly worth mentioning really) with this method is the fact that 'the box' I'm referring to is entirely imaginary. Invisible. Non-existent.

Finding it should be no problem at all!


To begin learning where 'The Box' is exactly watch some videos of others doing it successfully. Also, your own trial and error - pick a sensible point where it could be, get there and see what happens.

After a few successful connections (no matter how brief) you quickly start learning the basic location (and size) of the magic box.


COMPLETELY IGNORE the position of the refuelling boom/basket (and your port/probe) and focus entirely on driving your nose carefully into 'the box'.

COMPLETELY IGNORE the HUD, the instruments and everything in the cockpit. There is no cockpit; there is only your aircraft, floating nice and controlled in the air.


The moment I stop trying to 'do a refuel' and instead attempt to simply fly in a small area relative to the tanker I find I have a lot more success. My control of the aircraft noticeably increases and I am more relaxed.


As your eyes take in the 2D image projected by your monitor(s) your mind processes the information and formulates a mental model of the 3D space represented by that 2D image.

Concentrate on the position of your aircraft relative to the tanker within the 3D space.

Deliberately evaluate and appreciate the distances within this space, between you and the tanker.

Now start imagining where that 'box' sits relative to the tanker.

Focus on the position of that box and drive towards it, as controlled and steady as possible.

Approach with no desire to connect; we are just going there to sit in the box, nothing more.

Sometimes while in the box connection will be made, sometimes not.

Staying calm and relaxed, we are doing exactly what we came here to do: just touch the box.

Touch it, float in it if possible, and then come out again. In, wait a bit, out.

Your aim is formation flying only. Get to the box. Get in the box. Stay in the box.

Connections come and go, but that's not important. The box is key.



Ignore the booms and baskets.

When initially approaching a boom it will be sitting lower than it will eventually be for connection. Driving towards the boom at this stage will put us too low. IGNORE the boom and go for the box.

Once in the box the boom operator will do his job and come hunting for YOU, don't go chasing him. Your job is to just sit in the box.


While approaching a basket it will be floating all over the place. Don't chase the chicken.

It will pass through the box frequently so just sit in there and it will come to you and snap onto your probe. (Probe/basket magnetised in real world, or 'assistance' provided by the sim?)



A couple of other points, discussed to death a hundred times over the years, but just to reiterate again here for convenience:

- Get the aircraft reasonably well trimmed (perfection is not necessary)

- Physical joystick and throttle controls (as opposed to keyboard/mouse) is surely essential

- Control axis 'curves' and/or 'saturation' applied to help soften the sensitivity of controls (dampen your movements)

- Constant gentle 'prodding' movements of both the throttle and joystick is necessary the whole time (rotorheads might appreciate this as a likeness to the movements required for hovering)


And finally: Wake turbulence ... wow, just WOW!

Probably best to disable this effect during the early days of practicing this procedure, but learning with it from the beginning will sharpen your skills to a razor edge and give you patience of a rock.

...or a computer-shaped hole in the nearest window.

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True and valid


Yeah, nice one. I call this to be in the right spot at the right time, I do it differently but also flu to the spot before anything else.


Nice of you to spend time putting this all together, one thing I disagree on though. DO NOT disable wake turbulence if you are a beginner.


It's not that difficult once you learn to avoid that stream anyway and will teach you to refuel and prepares for the new things that will be coming to DCS AAR eventually.

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Very cool of you to try and give some pointers to folks who struggle with AAR. Good on ya, as it clearly took some time. I would disagree with disabling wake turbulence though, as it is actually a good learning tool to have, as it teaches you how to approach the tanker and drogue/boom (depending on what aircraft). Again, good on you for trying to assist others with a task that many find difficult to say the least.






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Airframes: A10C, A10CII, F/A-18C, F-14B, F-16C, UH=1H, FC3. Modules: Combined Arms, Supercarrier. Terrains: Persian Gulf, Nevada NTTR, Syria

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I've been practicing with the F-15C and the KC-135 lately. I don't know if it's just me but I find the position lights on the tanker quite difficult to see. The up/down light isn't so bad but the forward/back light is near impossible to see. I wonder if the general DCS world lighting improvements will help.

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  • 6 months later...

I don't know if has been suggested before, and I've been in the simulator just 2 yrs, and I'm willing to ask Firstly let me say how pleased and entertaining you made flying simulation again for an “Ageing Eagle” like me.

May I suggest that your refuelling on DCS have a “damper” feature to stabilise and make the process more easy if the gamer choose so . ( on and off if possible ) that would b a good substitute for the flying g’s missing on the game from my flying days. I’m now just an 1,5 g Airline guy.


That would b a nice feature more useful on multiplayer and in multiplayer as most pilots RTB or just fuel exhaust . That would make tankers a tactical part of the game for many inexperience users.


I hope that helps and I hope to join one group to work on DCS .



And keep on !!


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