Aircraft and World round

On Bagshot Island, there is an airport. The airport is the home base of an unlimited number of identical airplanes. Each airplane has a fuel capacity to allow it to fly exactly 1/2 way around the world, along a great circle. The planes have the ability to refuel in flight(with the help of other aircraft) without loss of speed or spillage of fuel. Though the fuel is unlimited, the island is the only source of fuel.

What is the fewest number of aircrafts necessary to get one plane all the way around the world assuming that all of the aircraft must return safely to the airport ?





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