Like an outstretched ovipositor, the refueling rod lowered itself to the glistening opening above. Like a suckling calf, the state-of-the-at stealth fighter approached the essential fuel supply in the sky, and attached itself, refilling its tanks. There is no point to sending a plane to war if it isn’t coming back, and as mundane as it is, aerial refueling is an essential part of that process.
It also looks really cool in night vision.
From The Aviationist:
The F-22 is an odd plane for this job, Built to replace the F-15, the F-22 is an air superiority fighter, with almost everything about it designed to best other aircraft in the sky. The United States military has barely faced any opposition in the sky during a war since the end of the Gulf War in 1991. (The Serbian Air Force in 1999 is the only significant exception.) So most of the time, what the F-22 does is escort other planes to protect them from a fight that isn’t going to happen.
That doesn’t mean fights couldn’t happen; both Assad’s government in Syria and its Russian allies fly planes over the country. But it hasn’t happened yet, and while the F-22 is mainly made to fight other aircraft, it can still do a little bit of bombing while flying over ISIS-held territory.
And in order to do that, it needs the range provided by taking on more fuel in the middle of a mission.
Watch more of the refueling below: