NEW DELHI: India's indigenously built fighter aircraft Tejas touched yet another milestone as it successfully carried out out the first-ever mid-air refuelling, the Indian Air Force said on Wednesday.
''A Russian-built IL-78 MKI tanker transferred fuel to a Tejas MK I aircraft on Tuesday,'' the IAF said in a press release.
"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 refuelling is one of the critical requirements for the Light Combat Aircraft to achieve final operational clearance," the IAF said.
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.
Prior to the test flight, extensive ground trials were conducted in all possible conditions under the supervision of ADA scientists.
"All flight parameters of Tejas aircraft were transmitted live to a ground control unit set-up at the Gwalior airbase, wherein Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) scientists constantly monitored the technical parameters of the mission.
The mid-air refuelling of Tejas came three months after it successfully fired an air-to-air beyond visual (BVR) range missile.
The indigenous supersonic fourth-generation fighter has been inducted by the Indian Air Force into the No 45 Squadron 'The Flying Daggers', based at Sulur Air Force Station at Kangayampalayam in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu.
The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) had in late 2017 cleared the acquisition of 83 LCA Tejas Mk1A aircraft and the HAL has also ramped up the production of the jet from eight per year to 16.
The 83 Tejas Mk1A will come for Rs 50,000 crore and help the IAF which has been struggling with the depleting number of fighter squadrons.
India has also joined the select club of US, Europe, Russia and China having the capability of Deck Landing of fighter aircraft.
The LCA Tejas Naval Prototype 2 (NP2), piloted by Captain Shivnath Dahiya safely executed the first contact of the arrestor hook system with Arresting wire at moderate taxi-in speeds on location at the Shore Based Test Facility, INS Hansa, Goa on August 2.