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Colin P said:They do suffer from severe top hamper, a cutdown version would reduce that effect, but the radar image would still be significant. With the advent of unmanned refueling UAV, I wonder if we will eventually see smaller refueling carriers, that fly only drones and helicopters. They would provide refueling services and possibly communications and surveillance UAV's for a fleet or region. I suppose the takeoff and landing characteristics of a refueling UAV would be the deciding factor.
As for underwater comms, I worked with SFU Underwater Research Lab in the 90's while they were trying to develop autonomous underwater vehicles. It is incredibly hard to send data through the ocean, even for a short distance. I suspect any underwater comms the Chinese have is limited to very simple information and the rest will be dumped through a surface antenna on occasional pop ups.
That is my guess, too. I suspect the Chinese have worked out a ULF method of cueing UUAVs to come to the surface to get/dump traffic. If that is not the case, I cannot figure out how they have bent/broken the laws of physics.