India carries out first ever mid-air refuelling of Tejas fighter jet
11 September 2018
India on Monday successfully carried out the first ever mid-air refuelling of the indigenously developed light combat aircraft Tejas, placing India in an elite group of countries having air-to-air refuelling system for military planes, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) said.
The feat was achieved at 9.30 am when 1,900 kg of fuel was transferred from the mid-air refuelling tanker of IAF’s IL78 to the Tejas LSP8 at an altitude of 20,000 feet, said a release from HAL, which has developed the light combat aircraft (LCA).
A few days ago, the Indian Air Force (IAF) had successfully carried out a dry run of mid-air refuelling using the Russian-built IL-78 MKI tanker. “The Light Combat Aircraft (Tejas LSP8) has successfully completed the wet (actual) engagement today by transferring 1,900 kg fuel from IAF IL78 mid-air refuelling tanker,” the release said.
The IAF IL78, piloted by Wg Cdr Siddarth Singh, accomplished the task with designers from HAL and Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) closely monitoring system parameters from the ground station at Gwalior.
According to HAL, the speed of Tejas was 270 knots when all the internal tanks and drop tanks were refuelled. “With this, India joins an elite group of countries that have developed the Air-to-Air (refuelling) (AAR) system for military class of aircraft,” HAL chairman and managing director R Madhavan was quoted as saying in the release.
The IAF had ordered 40 Tejas Mark-1 version and a request for proposal was issued to HAL by the IAF in December for procurement of another batch of 83 Tejas at a cost of around Rs50,000 crore.
The Air-to-Air refuelling flight tests conducted by IAF is a significant achievement and a major step towards final operational clearance (FOC) of LCA Tejas.
The Air-to-Air refuelling capability for LCA is a ‘force multiplier’ for the IAF, giving the aircraft the potential to stay airborne for much longer periods of time.
The enhanced range and endurance in air is expected to provide IAF a host of options in exploiting the operational potential of the LCA as well as to participate in international exercises without having to stage through several locations enroute.
Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman complimented DRDO-ADA, IAF, HAL and other agencies involved in the mission.