Air-to-air refueling is the capability that allows airpower to achieve both reach and persistence. From the early days of flight, clever engineers worked on ways to refuel aircraft in flight. The dominant airpower nations are those that invested in aerial refueling capabilities, not only specially configured aircraft and the systems to transfer fuel, but the techniques that allow refueling operations to be integrated into air mobility and strike missions. The U.S. military has been a pioneer in the field of refueling and today possesses the largest and most capable fleet of tanker aircraft. The role of modern military tanker aircraft has expanded to encompass the transport of cargo and personnel and even conduct aeromedical evacuations. The challenge for both military planners and aerospace engineers is to develop advanced refueling capabilities that can address the threats and requirements of a changing air operations environment. I have written more about this here.
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