HAL integrated Mid-Air-Refueling probe on LCA Tejas(LSP-8)
Engineers and technicians at Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd’s (HAL) LCA-Tejas Division Finally Completed the extremely complex integration of the aerial refueling probe on to the Tejas fighter.
LCA Tejas Limited Series Production-8 (LSP-8) is fitted with air-to-air probe, supplied by UK-based Cobham, is being fixed in front of the canopy and on the right side of the aircraft.
Similar to Mirage, Tejas too will have a fixed aerial refueling probe. “The modification of LSP-8 is under progress. The structural modification for the attachment and load is under way. We also have to undertake fuel system and software modifications,” says V Sridharan, General Manager, LCA.
The pressure refueling process on LSP-8 and SP-1 have already been demonstrated. Last year, the naval LCA (NP2) underwent ‘hot refueling at HAL facilities. Both were mandatory tests ahead of fixing the fuel probe.
HAL has the expertise in fixing mid-air fuel probes on Jaguar trainers. The work share for this critical integration work is being split between Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), Aircraft Research and Design Centre (ARDC), Tata Advanced System Laboratories (TASL) and LCA Tejas Division.
Today’s flight test was to collect air data and to monitor aircraft performance in its flight. LSP-8 has gone through structural modifications along with software updates and Ground-based trials of IFR has been carried out and refuelling process already has been demonstrated. HAL aware of March deadline for Final Operational Clearance is planning to start the first touch and go operations from flying tanker with the aircraft, later to be followed up with actual fuel transfer in mid-air multiple times to improve aircraft combat range.
Mid-air-refueling probe is one of the key parameters HAL-ADA combine need to fulfil, ahead of the Final Operational Clearance. HAL says from the first Tejas MKI-A aircraft onwards (21st fighter in the series production plans), all platforms will be fitted with the air-to-air refueling probe.
“However, if the IAF wishes, then it could enter into a separate contract with HAL, to retro-fit even the first 20 series production variants with these probes”, says an official.