Indian Express (04-03-2003)
IAF gets air to air refueller

In a major addition to its strike capability, the Indian Air, Force has inducted its first.air-to-air refueller. The Uzbek-manufactured IL-78 M {Midas) refueller landed at the Agra air base on Sunday, making IAF the first air force in the subcontinent to have refuelling aircraft.

Air Headquarters officials said that in view of the new induction, a new squadron (called no 78) has been raised. F1own in by IAF plots from Tashkent" it is the first of a batch of six aitcraft :'contracted by" India from Uzbekistan.

It is learnt that the IAF is planning an exercise in April to showcase its ability to project; dominance at ranges beyond 5,000 km. While IAF's SU,30 MKI have already been fitted with refuellirig pods, the exercise to mount these pods on frontlin Mirage"2000H fighters is currently on.

The IL-78 will be a major force multiplier and will increase the strike capability of the strike capability of the IAF's frontline combat aircraft.

In fact, the Gwalior-based Mirage-2000 squadrons had their first experience of mid-air refuelling when a French air tanker participated in the recent joint exercises in January this year.

Defence Minister George Fernandes who was in Tashkent along with Vice Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Mike Mcmahon and Assistant Chief of Air Staff Air Vice Marshal Raj Kumar received the first aircraft.