aerial refueling. Why?


Why is it considered better/more efficient than simply launching a mission from a closer location, where you won’t need refueling?

In: Technology

Because it’s a lot cheaper to put a flying tanker in the air than it is to put more airbases in more locations. Plus extending the range of things is always useful and you might not want the overhead of having to land and relaunch.

1) You might not have a closer base from which to launch your aircraft, and smaller aircraft have smaller fuel tanks on average so they don’t have the same range as long range bombers and tankers.

2) If the plane is a very expensive one (like a B-2), it is better to keep it out farther out of reach from your enemies when possible.

> simply launching a mission from a closer location,

Oh sure, just go over to your military airfield in whatever adjacent country where you keep all your relevant strike aircraft and do the mission from there.

Except… those don’t actually exist. The US is somewhat unique in the number of bases on foreign soil, and even they don’t have them *everywhere*. In the Falkland Islands War the UK didn’t have the option of launching from a closer location because they couldn’t just magic up territory over there.

Who says you have the necessary equipment in the right spot?

The 19 of the United State’s 20 B2 bombers are based out of a single airbase in Missouri. They need fancy climate controlled hangars for maintenance along with not letting non-cleared people get too close to the cool stealth stuff, its just easier to keep them all in one spot.

So what if you need to get a B-2 to drop some ordinance on Afghanistan? You could have it fly to Germany, land, refuel, get the maintenance it needs done simply because it landed, take off, fly to Afghanistan, drop its load, fly back to Germany, refuel and do a bit more maintenance, then fly back to Missouri. Orrrr you just have it fly over Germany where a KC-130 will spend a couple minutes refueling its tank at its cruising altitude and cruising speed potentially saving you a few hours due to not needing to slow down, descend, land, take off, climb, and speed up.

And you’ve kept your fancy toys out of reach of anyone nefarious