air force
An IAF light combat aircraft "Tejas" performs during the Indian Air Force DayREUTERS

In a first, India's defense behemoth Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) on Monday refueled a Tejas fighter aircraft midair over Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh, said the company.

"The light combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas LSP8 was transferred 1,900kg fuel from an Indian Air Force (IAF) IL78 aerial refueling tanker at an altitude of 20,000 feet," the city-based aerospace major said in a statement.

The milestone of refueling the internal tanks and drop tanks (external fuel tanks) was done at 9.30 am over Gwalior skies, 400km north of Madhya Pradesh capital Bhopal when the aircraft was at 270 knots speed.

"With this, India joins the elite group of countries who have developed the air-to-air system for the military class of aircraft," Chairman and Managing Director of HAL R. Madhavan said in the statement.

The flight was piloted by Wing Commander Siddarth Singh of the National Flight Test Centre, with designers from HAL and Bengaluru-based Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) monitoring the parameters from the ground station at Gwalior.

A dry run of refueling was held on September 4 and 6 over the same airspace.

"The performance of aircraft systems (mainly fuel and flight control systems) during the trial was in line with the design requirements and was closely matching with the results of ground tests of air-to-air refueling system," HAL added.