LCA-Tejas(LSP-8) to be cleared for In-flight Refueling trials Soon
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.
LSP-8 will begin Dry contact trials with IAF’s Il-78MKI air-to-air refuelling tanker aircraft from early 2018 onwards. In first Dry contact trials, LSP-8 will connect with refuelling pods of Il-78MKI refuelling tanker aircraft but will not transfer any fuel, once Dry contact trials are cleared, in the second Wet trials phase actual transfer of fuel from the tanker to the LSP-8 will take place.
LCA-Tejas will also be able to receive fuel from IAF Su-30MKI aircraft in buddy-buddy refuelling system which is also known as Aerial refuelling system (ARS) equipped on Su-30MKI aircrafts.
It is expected that in around the middle of next year (2018), Tejas will have the operational aerial-refueling capability.
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.