Bengaluru : In a first, India’s defence behemoth Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) on Monday refuelled a Tejas fighter aircraft midair over Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh, said the company here.
“The light combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas LSP8 was transferred 1,900kg fuel from an Indian Air Force (IAF) IL78 aerial refuelling tanker at an altitude of 20,000 feet,” city-based aerospace major said in a statement.
The milestone of refuelling the internal tanks and drop tanks (external fuel tanks) was done at 9.30 a.m over Gwalior skies, 400km north of Madhya Pradesh capital Bhopal, when the aircraft was at 270 knots speed.
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.
“With this, India joins the elite group of countries who have developed the air-to-air system for military class of aircraft,” Chairman and Managing Director of HAL R. Madhavan said in the statement.
The flight was piloted by Wing Commander Siddarth Singh of the National Flight Test Centre, with designers from HAL and Bengaluru-based Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) monitoring the parameters from the ground station at Gwalior.
A dry run of refuelling was held on September 4 and 6 over the same air space.
“The performance of aircraft systems (mainly fuel and flight control systems) during the trial were in line with the design requirements and was closely matching with the results of ground tests of air-to-air refuelling system,” HAL added.
India has also joined the select club of US, Europe, Russia and China having the capability of Deck Landing of fighter aircraft.