During the 1920s and early 1930s, air refuelling was only
used to assist in setting flight endurance records. The formation
of Flight Refuelling Ltd on October 29 1934 allowed serious
consideration to be given to its wider application. This led, in
1939, to non-stop crossings of the Atlantic, but it was not until
the post-war adoption of air refuelling by the United States Air
Force and, in 1949, the company's invention of the probe and drogue
method of contact, that its full potential was realised.
Cobham's organisation, having established itself as a
world leader in fuel system design and component manufacture, then
exercised a policy of internal growth and gradual
As an airframe maintainer and operator, the company was
also able to diversify in to maintaining military aircraft on
behalf of the Royal Air Force, modifying aircraft for specialist
roles even in to design and production of target airframes and
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.
With continuous development of the probe and drogue
refuelling system, Cobham's equipment was to prove of fundamental
importance in the defence of both the United Kingdom and the United
States throughout the Cold War and beyond.
Cobham's air-to-air refuelling equipment played
a critical role in the Falklands War in 1982, enabling both
transport of vital equipment and long-range missions by the RAF's
Vulcan bomber fleet and Nimrod antisubmarine aircraft.