The long-delayed program of the Tejas fighter jet in India has now successfully demonstrated air-to-air refueling capability during a trial involving the Ilyushin Il-78MKI tanker aircraft.
The Tejas fighter jet uses a fueling probe provided by Cobham to connect to the hose and drogue system on tankers, as seen in a video published by the official Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
The Indian Air Force (IAF) has successfully completed a test of refueling in the air in the real form on fighter aircraft built domestically, Tejas MK1 with an MKI IL-78 tanker.
India's state-owned aerospace giant Hindustan Aeronautics Limited announced that the Tejas fighter jet had successfully completed air refueling on Monday by transferring 1,900 liters of fuel from the Indian Air Force IL78MKI tanker.
“Refueling is carried out at an altitude of 20,000 feet. The aircraft's speed is 270 knots and all tanks, both internal and drop tanks are replenished,“ said the HAL statement.
Previously, on September 4 and 6, dry probe air refueling docking with tankers was successfully carried out as a prelude to actual filling involvement.
A successful refueling test is considered a big leap in the development stage and enlightens the possibility of fighter jets getting a certificate of final operating license faster.
“With this, India is joining an elite group of countries that have developed Air-to-Air (AAR) military aircraft refueling systems”, said R. Madhavan, CMD, HAL.
Although it has recently claimed success, such as the integration of air-to-air missiles outside the I-Derby visual range and other avionics, Tejas has been far behind schedule to get final operating permission from the Indian Air Force in December this year.
In addition to the slow progress in developing combat-ready versions of Tejas, the pace of production is slower at the HAL manufacturing facility in Bengaluru.
According to a 2006 agreement between HAL and the Indian Air Force, a total of 20 Tejas fighter jets contracted from the initial operational permit standard should have been delivered in 2011, but until now HAL has only been able to send 9 jets.
Furthermore, in 2010, HAL received orders for 20 aircraft in combat ready mode and scheduled deliveries were 2016. However, the state-owned company had not been able to get the final operating license to date from the Air Force. However, the Indian Air Force's selfless support for domestic fighter jets is clear from the fact that they plan to acquire an extra 83Tejass units in the upgraded Mk1A configuration.