December 18, 2017
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Close support
Aerial refuelers and need of Indian Armed Forces

Airborne refuellers are generally accepted to be force multipliers in that they push the limits of endurance of both man and machine far beyond the normal envelope of performance. They help a military force to use existing assets to the maximum, making for cost-effectiveness in the context of the whole campaign.

Airborne refueling obviates the need for landing to take on more fuel. The very act of landing and being airborne again is a fuel-guzzling operation which the airborne refueller reduces to a single cycle even as the fighting platform extends its range of operations or makes multiple sorties over enemy targets as part of close support to ground forces or combat air patrol for air superiority.

If a Sukhoi-30 which has a normal range of 5000 km between refueling is able to stay aloft for 10 to 12 hours, it can bring vast swaths of enemy territory within contention where, hitherto, no such platform existed.

India has had airborne refuellers for several years. It has been
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