On 04 Sep 18, the Indian Air Force successfully carried out the first ever mid air refueling of the indigenously build fighter aircraft Tejas MK 1 with an IL-78 MKI tanker of the 78 Sqn. The tanker was launched from its base in Agra while the fighter was launched from Gwalior. The specially modified Tejas aircraft carried out a series of test profiles including a ‘Dry Contact’ with the tanker. A second Tejas aircraft flying in formation was used to observe the exercise closely.
All flight parameters of Tejas aircraft were transmitted live to a ground control unit set-up at Gwalior airbase, wherein ADA scientists constantly monitored the technical parameters of the mission. The Tejas aircraft was piloted by test pilot Gp Capt Joshi and the IL-78 MKI was flown by Gp Capt R Arvind, Commanding Officer of the tanker squadron. Prior to the test flight, extensive ground trials were conducted in all possible conditions under the supervision of ADA scientists.
The success of these trials is a major leap for the indigenous fighter, thus enhancing its mission capability by increasing its range and payload. The ability to carry out Air-to-Air Refueling is one of the critical requirements for the LCA to achieve ‘Final Operational Clearance’.