The Indian Air Force (IAF) has successfully carried out the maiden mid-air refuelling of the service’s Tejas MK 1 light combat jet.
The mid-air refuelling of the fighter aircraft was conducted by a Russian Ilyushin IL-78 MKI aerial refuelling tanker deployed under the IAF’s No 78 Squadron.
Operated by IAF commanding officer group captain R Arvind, the IL-78 tanker was launched from its base at the Agra Air Force Station.
The Tejas MK 1 aircraft was launched by test pilot group captain Joshi from the Gwalior airbase in India.
Following the launch, the upgraded Tejas variant carried out a series of test profiles, including ‘dry contact’ with the refuelling tanker.
In addition, another Tejas aircraft flying in formation was deployed to observe the exercise. All flight parameters of the receiver jet were transmitted in real-time to a ground control unit set up at Gwalior.
Once transmitted, scientists from India-based aircraft manufacturer Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) constantly monitored the technical parameters of the mission.
Before conducting the test flight, extensive ground trials were carried out in all possible conditions under the supervision of the ADA scientists.
With the successful completion of the air-to-air refuelling trial, the Tejas MK 1 light combat aircraft has met a critical requirement to attain final operational clearance.
In February last year, Saab offered an advanced sensor package to be integrated on to the IAF’s Tejas Mk1A jet, comprising an airborne electronically scanned array fighter radar combined with a compact electronic warfare suite using Gallium Nitride-based AESA technology.