Thursday, January 03, 2013

IAF Mirage 2000 Fighters Hooking-Up With An Il-78 Tanker To Perform Mid-Air Refuelling

Indian Air Force's [IAF] French-origin Mirage 2000 fighters performing Aerial refueling, from a Russian-origin Il-78 tanker aircraft.





The IAF recently announced that all future combat aircrafts inducted would be capable of replenishing its fuel tanks, mid-air, thereby enabling the aircrafts to stay up in air for prolonged periods of time, significantly extending their range of operation, limited only by pilot endurance & availability of weapons on-board. Current operational fighter aircrafts capable of performing air-air refuelling in the IAF fleet include the Sukhoi Su-30MKI, SEPECAT Jaguar, MiG-29 & the Mirage 2000 fighters, seen above. The IAF's Su-30 has also demonstrated its ability to perform 'Buddy-Buddy Refueling'. Of the transport aircrafts, the recently inducted C-130J are fitted with the required receptacle. In future, the Dassault Rafale, fifth generation T-50 PAK-FA fighter aircraft, the LCA Tejas and the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft [AMCA] would be some of the aircrafts with this feature.

IAF's current aerial tanker fleet consists of 7 Il-78 MKI aircrafts, a derivative of the Il-76 transport aircraft, also in service with the air force here. In keeping with its expanding fleet strength & area of interest, the IAF [via the Defence Ministry], it is believed, has declared winner the Airbus's A330 MRTT in its competition for buying at least 6 additional tankers, beating the Il-78, yet again, although it is yet to be announced officially. However, despite beating the Russian bid once before, in 2009, the whole process had to be repeated, since India's Finance Ministry wasn't convinced of the merits of the win at that time. One only hopes that this time around things don't follow the same pattern. The contract to be awarded is estimated to be worth around $1-1.3 billion USD. Reports suggest IAF will eventually buy 12 new tankers, though it is not yet clear whether the 6 more tankers would, in fact be a replacement for the existing Il-78. As of now, however, there is confirmed news of plans to buy 6 tankers, most likely from Airbus.


Related: Il-76 Aircraft: Indian Air Force - cockpit & crew station [Photographs]