PAF Gets Its 3rd IL-78P Air refuelling Aircraft

Pakistan Air Force (PAF) has received third air to air refuelling aircraft from Ukraine, which is likely to reach here in the first week of February 2011, sources disclosed. PAF purchased a total of four IL-78P Midas tanker aircraft from Ukraine.

The third aircraft is likely to arrive in the first week of February. These aircraft are equipped with Soviet-designed UPAZs pods and refuelling kits on Mirage-III Rose-I of South African origin. In the first phase, PAF announced that 30 Mirage-III Rose-I will be upgraded with in-flight refuelling probes and this too, is being done at PAC Kamra. The IL-78s will help train Pakistani crew in mid-air refuelling techniques and once operational, will be used to refuel the Mirage-III, eventually JF-17 Thunder and Fc-20 fighter jets.

These IL-78 Midas mid-air refuelling aircraft will allow PAF to increase the range and endurance of its fighter aircraft. The capability will also allow Pakistan to hit targets deep inside enemy territory by refuelling fighter aircraft during flight. An official said that air-to-air refuelling will enhance PAF capability in military warfare allowing its aircraft long ranges. The first air to air refuelling aircraft joined the force in mid of December 2009. PAF is using IL-78 aircraft that it procured from Ukraine for refuelling purposes and immediately installed refuelling kits to save cost. It has been learnt that PAF operates around 45 F-16A/B that are being upgraded to F-16AM/BM along with 17 new F-16C/D Block 52. So far, PAF has not shown any interest in new conformal air refuel tank system for F-16s to make them capable of taking fuel from IL-78 as its old F-16A/B can not carry conformal fuel tanks.

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