dv wrote:maurvir wrote: I'm actually surprised mid-air refueling of UAVs wasn't accomplished sooner, however I guess they are so easy to operate from forward operating bases that it's easier to just send them on short missions.
The little ones, sure. Whatever the unmanned, semi-autonomous version of the B-2 ends up looking like, I'm sure it'll be flown out of a very, very secure airbase in the lower 48.
This is already true of Global Hawk. I'm not sure if it is capable of mid-air refueling (because its range is already ludicrous), but it is perfectly capable of flying very long distances on its own. I know, I was still around when NGC published the video of its flight from LA to Australia more than a decade ago with virtually zero human intervention.
Of course, that's a surveillance platform, not a bomber, but the principles have assuredly been honed over the last several years.