Gagan shakti 2018 exercise
The Sukhoi jets were refueled during Gagan Shakti Exercise 2018.Indian Air Force

In a bid to display its operational preparedness, reach and capabilities, the Indian Air Force successfully carried out air-to-air refueling during the Gagan Shakti 2018 exercise. A video of the refueling process has been shared on social media.

In the long-range strike concept validation, the Su-30s, airborne from a base on in West Bengal's Kharagpur, engaged multiple targets in the Western Sea-board at distances in excess of 2,200 km. These aircraft then landed at a Southern Base after covering a total distance of 3,600 km in a single mission.

During the flight, the Sukhoi jets were refueled twice mid-air. It was refueled once on its way to Lakshadweep and once during the return flight. According to IAF, these staggering ranges were made possible by IL-78 FRA (Flight Refueling Aircraft). 

IAF took to Twitter to share images of the refueling process and also said that jet engaged in a joint operation with the Indian Navy and conducted long-range Maritime Strike in the Western Seaboard.

The successful re-fueling in mid-air is indeed commendable as it requires exceptional flying skills. The aircraft has to accurately insert the receptacle probe into a basket-shaped drogue trailing behind the fuel tanker aircraft. Both the receiving aircraft and the fuel tanker have to maintain extremely accurate flying parameters, reported Deccan Chronicle.

sukhoi 30
Sukhoi Su-30 fighter aircraft took off from an air base in West Bengal.IANS

The Gagan Shakti 2018 exercise saw various drills by around 1,100 aircraft, including fighters, transports, and helicopters. Around 4,000 sorties were also conducted through the day and night across the length and breadth of India.

Here's a video of the refueling process: