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  1. #1
    Beetlegeuse's Avatar
    Beetlegeuse is offline Knowledgeable Member
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    Mar 2013

    Fighter jet refuels from tanker drone (first ever)

    I expect to live long enough to see battles if not entire wars whose outcome is decided by which side has the better robots, and this is another step in that direction.

    This is an F/A 18 refueling from a Boeing MQ-25 Stingray.

    The tanker drone obviously is "low observability" if not outright stealthy, which also means it necessarily is much smaller than a conventional aerial refueling tanker. Which means they'll need lots and lots of them, so they've ordered 72 of them at a cost of almost $200 million each, close to 3x as much as the Hornet it's refueling.

    Also note the drone's landing. It's almost completely flat. There is no "flare" before touchdown and it makes (almost) a perfect 3-point landing, which is not the norm for airplanes with "tricycle" landing gear but is done in this case because the tanker is intended for carrier-based operation, and carrier landings are supposed to rattle your fillings.

  2. #2
    almostgone's Avatar
    almostgone is offline AR-Platinum Elite- Hall of Famer
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    Jun 2004
    the lower carolina
    Like you, I've been anticipating these. Figure at some point there will be widespread use of drones for refueling or for offensive and defensive purposes, drone swarms. Imagine them approaching in a formation and the scattering at multiple vectors. It could be a ECM nightmare.

    So many applications come to mind....ISR, long-term underwater patrols. Quite a multi-role potential.
    There are 3 loves in my life: my wife, my English mastiffs, and my weightlifting....Man, my wife gets really pissed when I get the 3 confused...
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