Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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cluster refueling

cluster of small refueling drones speed up to plane
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A cluster of refueling drones is released from the tanker. Each in its turn speeds up to the plane, disconnects the old empty refueling tank and connects the new one to the plane.

It then speeds back to the tanker and changes external fuel tanks with the tanker.

Alternatively, the quadcopter tanker has a giant net which simply catches the plane and carries it completely, delivering it to an airborne aircraft carrier for repairs and anything else needed.

Of course option II would be easier if no pilots were involved.

pashute, Jun 04 2018

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       Is this meant to allow in-flight exchange of external fuel tanks?
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 04 2018
  
      
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