Flying closer to getting combat clearance, India’s indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas refuelled mid-air from an Indian Air Force tanker aircraft with actual transfer of fuel for the first time on Monday (10 September).
During the refuelling process, over 1,900 kg of fuel was transferred to the fighter jet by an Indian Air Force Ilyushin Il-78 tanker through the air-to-air refuelling probe at an altitude of 20,000 feet, reports have said.
On 4 September, Tejas performed a 'dry' link up an Il-78 tanker. In a dry link-up, a test manoeuvre, there is no transfer of fuel from a tanker to a fighter jet. According to reports, test pilot Group Captain Rajeev Joshi of the National Flight Test Centre flew the 4 September sortie which had taken the aircraft a step closer to getting Final Operational Clearance and being combat ready.
Agencies are expected to conduct eight more tests to validate this capability.
In May, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited successfully carried out a “hot refuelling” procedure on the aircraft. This process involves refuelling of the aircraft with the engine in operation between sorties to cut the turn-around time.
Struggling to maintain adequate numbers, the IAF has started inducting Tejas with Initial Operating Clearance. It currently has nine Tejas jets in the Flying Daggers (No. 45) squadron, based at Sulur Air Force Station in Tamil Nadu.
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