Cobham Mission Equipment, the market leader for Air to Air Refuelling, is engaged in the design, qualification and manufacture of the F-35 air refuelling probe.

Selected for its unique refuelling capabilities, Cobham Mission Equipment became involved in the JSF programme in June 2002. Now in production with the first qualified probe, Cobham Mission Equipment has employed advanced design and build techniques to provide a light weight, robust refuelling probe that can accommodate high rate fuel delivery.
The retractable probe is located on the right side of the forward fuselage, inside the aircraft behind two opening doors. It is mounted to the aircraft at one end with a ball joint assembly which is attached to an actuation linkage. This allows the probe to rotate out from the aircraft to a deployed position, enabling the nozzle to engage with a receiver drogue for refuelling. Amongst its key features, the F-35 probe also includes a “weak link” which carries the nozzle and is designed to separate from the probe mast when exposed to overloads thereby protecting the airframe.

Consisting mainly of bespoke designed aluminium alloy parts, the probe reaches a length of 5.5 feet. It is used on both the STOVL and Carrier variants of the F-35.

Cobham Mission Equipment remains committed to the JSF programme with air refueling probe deliveries extending out until 2023 and an estimated total of STOVL and Carrier variants of at least 870 aircraft.