The Indian Air Force (IAF) exhibited an extraordinary display of air-to-air refueling of a fighter jet during a two-week long ‘Gagan Shakti 2018’ exercise. A video showed pilots preparing to refuel Sukhoi-30 MKI jet. According to a report published in NDTV, The Sukhoi Su-30 jet took off from Kalaikunda airbase in West Bengal’s Kharagpur. It returned to the base after engaging in multiple targets over the area of Lakshadweep. The jet was refuelled twice during the flight towards Lakshadweep and as well as return flight after completing the mission.
Air to air refuelling is the most difficult task to perform which requires exception skills. The receptacle probe has to be accurately inserted into the basket shaped drogue trailing behind the fuel tanker by the receiving aircraft. Accuracy is the key to execute this task.
Air-to-air refuelling increases the combat capabilities of the fighter aircraft. The IAF has already started the process to procure six more flight refueler aircraft (FRA) in January 2018. Currently India has six IL-78 FRAs, but these are facing maintenance issues.
Around 1,100 aircrafts, including fighter jets, helicopters and transport have been mobilised by the Indian Air Force during the exercise. More than 4,000 sorties have been planned during ‘Gagan Shakti 2018’. IAF also conducted a mass casualty air evacuation drill in the northern sector. 88 casualties were airlifted from Leh and taken to Chandigarh. The C-17 Globe Master Aircraft was converted for this role by fixing support structures for the stretchers, in the main cabin, reported ANI