Loyal Wingman, 1974 Edition

Of course, you have probably seen this, the first successful mid-air refueling of an F-18 from an MQ-25 UAV in naval history, which occurred 4 June. The fact that this could eliminate tying down tactical aircraft as buddy stores refuelers is huge for the use of carrier air wing tactics. 

The current “Loyal Wingman” or “Airpower Teaming” concept– matching up high-performance UAVs with a manned aircraft in a single flight– is seen as revolutionary to the future of naval warfare, and it is, but keep in mind that it is not wholly unheard of/unseen in the past with more analog technology.

Check out this Naval Missile Center (NMC) Point Mugu Vought DF-8F Crusader drone controller (BuNo 145528, NMC-105) in-flight with its unmanned McDonnell QF-4B Phantom II NOLO (no on-board live operator) drone (BuNo 149466, NMC-41) in 1974.

Beautiful picture.

These QF-4s could often prove death-defying. 

Either way, interesting concept, then and now.

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