A U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor takes gas from a KC-135 tanker enroute to Syria.
Although the F-22 Raptor can carry its air-to-air and air-to-ground weaponry in its internal weapons bays, it relies on rather unstealthy fuel tanks when it needs to increase its range.
External fuel tanks are carried during peacetime operations (including QRA – Quick Reaction Alert service) but in a real conflict like the one in Syria and Iraq, when invisibility is a must (at least for the F-22), stealth planes fly with no external loads.
That’s why aircraft must be refueled mid-air by tankers several times, to be able to remain in the air for the 6 – 7 (or more) hours required to reach northern Syria and return to Al Dhafra in the UAE after dropping ordnance.
Here’s an interesting video showing the stealth multi-role fighter jets take fuel from a KC-10 Extender tanker during on Sept. 27, 2014.
Couldn’t they carry external tanks for part of the trip, then punch them when they needed to stealth up?
Sure. But you’d have wasted 2 fuel tanks…
Prob less expensive than all the fuel burned merging with tankers… how much can a fuel tank cost?
Varies by aircraft, but $50,000 each is probably a good enough estimate. You think a single Raptor carries $100,000 worth of fuel? Maybe if you buy it from a gas pump with European taxes! LOL
Plus, even with tanks an F-22 couldn’t reach Northern Syria from the UAE & return- no fighter on the planet could, it’s 1000NM one way!
Somebody was playing laser tag with them :) (1:08)