IAF refuels its EMB-145 AEW&C aircraft in mid-air

30 November 2017
The IAF recently carried out for the first time aerial refuelling of one of its Embraer EMB-145 AEW&C aircraft (seen here), the PIB announced on 30 November. Source: Via PIB

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has successfully carried out aerial refueling of one its Brazilian-made Embraer EMB-145-based airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) platforms.

The recently executed 'probe and drogue' refuelling by an Ilyushin Il-78 tanker was aimed at enhancing the EMB-145’s operational range, the Indian government’s Press Information Bureau (PIB) said in a 30 November statement.

“A mere 10-minute-long in-flight refuelling can generate an additional four hours of endurance [for the aircraft]," the PIB stated, adding that this was the first time that an IAF EMB-145 AEW&C platform was refuelled in mid-air.

“The AAR on the Embraer is a good achievement as AEW&C platforms have to remain airborne for extended periods during operations,” said military analyst Air Marshal V K Bhatia (retd). This additional capability will make the EMB-145 AEW&C aircraft a force multiplier for the air force, he added.

The IAF recently took delivery of two of the three EMB-145s it ordered in 2008 for USD208 million. The platforms have been fitted with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)-designed Netra AEW&C systems, which the IAF claims provide 240-degree coverage as well as surveillance ranges between 250 and 375 km.

The IAF also carries out aerial refuelling for its fleet of Sukhoi Su-30MKI, Dassault Mirage 2000H, and SEPECAT Jaguar combat aircraft, but is handicapped by a shortage of mid-air tankers.

From its base in Agra, the service operates six Il-78 tankers, which were acquired in 2004. However, official sources said that merely two of these are operational as the remaining four are grounded, awaiting spares from Russia.

Want to read more? For analysis on this article and access to all our insight content, please enquire about our subscription options at

(283 of 358 words)