- Tejas' speed was 270 knots when the internal and drop tanks were refueled
- Refueling increases the fighter jets endurance and adds a lethal punch
- Some dry runs of the fighter jet were conducted earlier
In a big achievement, a made-in-India Tejas fighter jet today refuelled mid-air placing India in an elite group of countries having air-to-air refuelling system for military planes. The aircraft is being manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and some dry runs were conducted earlier.
The milestone was achieved at 9.30 am when 1,900 kg of fuel was transferred from the mid-air refuelling tanker of IAF's IL78 to the Tejas LSP8 at an altitude of 20,000 feet, HAL said in a release.
The refueling increases the fighter jets endurance and adds a lethal punch. Apart from this, it also increases its range. The feat was achieved days after the Indian Air Force (IAF) successfully did a dry run of mid-air refuelling using the Russian-built IL-78 MKI tanker.
The IAF IL78 was piloted by Wing Commander Siddharth Singh with designers from HAL and Aeronautical Development Agency monitoring the system parameteres from the Gwalior ground station.
According to HAL, the speed of Tejas was 270 knots when all the internal tanks and drop tanks were refuelled.
The Indian Air Force currently operates nine Tejas fighters built to an Initial Operating Clearance standard. These jets are being flown by No. 45 Squadron, the Flying Daggers, based at Sulur Air Force Station in Tamil Nadu.
There are still a handful of development strides that the Tejas needs to achieve to be the multi-role jet the Indian Air Force seeks. Though Israeli built Derby air-to-air missiles have been successfully integrated onto the Tejas, the jet still needs to integrate a Russian built GSh-23 gun besides expanding its flight envelope.
Simultaneously, the Tejas needs to be more easy to maintain, a process that engineers at Hindustan Aeronautics are working on. Pilots at the National Flight Test Centre will also be testing the Tejas's low-speed recovery system, a safety feature designed to automatically increase thrust to the engine in the event that the fighter is flown at close to the speed at which it can stall mid-air.