The Indian Air Force has many fighter jets that are capable of protecting our borders. Like every other vehicle, these fighter jets also require fuel in large quantities. There are situations when these jets cannot land but require fuel to fly. In such a situation, aerial refueling comes in handy. As the name suggests, aerial refueling is the process in which transfer of fuel is done in air or while flying. Every modern fighter aircraft is now capable of receiving fuel in the air. Transferring fuel is the main problem because not every aircraft is capable of transferring fuel. To do such a special task we need a special aircraft. The Indian Air Force has the aerial refueling tanker named Ilyushin IL-78MKI tankers for this task. This article contains all the information about the only aerial tanker of the Indian Air Force.
Ilyushin IL-78MKI – The Aerial Refueling Tanker Of India
The Ilyushin Il-78 is a Soviet/Russian four-engined aerial refueling tanker based on the Il-76 strategic airlifter. Ilyushin is the manufacturer of this aerial refueling tanker. There were six aircraft ordered in 2002, built at the Tashkent Aviation Production Association plant using unfinished airframes. Uses Cobham Mk.32B air refueling pods, which allow it to refuel both Russian-built and Western aircraft. About 53 aircraft are currently operational worldwide.
The IL-78MKI is a tailor-made variant of IL-78M and is equipped with Israeli fuel-transferring systems. These aircraft were deployed by the Indian Air Force (IAF) and can refuel six to eight Sukhoi Su-30MKIs in a single operation. The variant took its maiden flight on 11 January 2003.
This aircraft requires 6 crew members to operate. They have the capacity of a maximum 1,00,000 Kg of payload.
Its dimensions are :-
Length :- 46.59m
Wingspan :- 50.5m
Height :- 14.76m
They can transfer fuel at the rate of 900 to 2,200 liters per minute. It can fly with the maximum speed of 850 Km/h and has a range of 7,300 Km.
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