Are there any excel gurus here? Somebody could make a spreadsheet, with factors such as how many fighters/strike ac, distance to target, pounds of fuel needed, distance to refuel circuit......
For a planner, such things should be calculable (to within acceptable accuracy) at mission plan time. If you're setting out a course of waypoints, you could, say, decide that the stage WP_6 to WP_7 be flown at a set airspeed & altitude, so the planner will calc the time and fuel burn. Alternatively you could decide on a set arrival time at WP_7, so the calc will be for airspeed and burn.
Thus the whole mission's fuel budget & timings could be calculated based on all the stages. Furthermore, multiple missions could be synchronised so that, say, a tanker and several thirsty fighters arrive at a waypoint at the same time, multiple bombers on different courses could arrive over the target simultaneously, or air sweeps, SEADs and strikes are sequenced as successive phases.
The complications begin when actions are added (e.g. refuel at nearest, attack target, fly CAP for 2 hours), and the fuel budget & timings for many such actions are not accurately predictable. Then estimates and allowances have to be brought into the mix. A mission consisting of different aircraft types would complicate the speed and fuel calcs, in case you plan to fly SR-71s and Piper Cubs together . Also, if we demanding players ask for enhanced weather effects down the line, then headwinds and storms could ruin the plans. Just like in real life.
Autonomous behaviour would still be a major part of planned missions, e.g. an escort for a strike mission would be expected to deal with threats, or a tanker would become "open for business" when it reaches a track. After all, avoiding micromanagement is one of the major strengths of CMANO.
However, I suggest we post any planner ideas in a separate thread to keep it on-topic. I have a few ideas I'm trying to mentally bash into shape and was planning to post them soon, so feel free to beat me to it
So for these refuel ideas, they mostly finesse the current autonomous behaviour and could be useful at present, as well as feature in any future planner-created missions.