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The Indian Air Force (IAF) has been facing a shortage of Flight Refuelling Aircraft (FRA) in its fleet, which has resulted in the adoption of alternative methods to impart Air to Air Refuelling (AAR) skills to its pilots. Due to the limited availability of FRAs, the IAF has started using the buddy-buddy aerial refuelling method to train its pilots on AAR procedures.

Despite operating six Ilyushin IL-78 air-to-air refuelling tanker aircraft, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has been struggling with low fleet availability rates, which have been hovering around 50%. The IAF has also been unable to acquire the additional six next-generation air-to-air refuelling tanker aircraft that it requires, despite the fleet requirement being at 18 aircraft for the past two decades.

In the buddy-buddy method, two fighter aircraft fly together, with one serving as the tanker and the other as the receiver. The receiving aircraft links up with the tanker aircraft and refuels from it in mid-air. This method is not as efficient as AAR with dedicated FRA but is still considered an effective way to train pilots in AAR procedures.

The IAF has been striving to enhance its operational capabilities and maintain readiness to meet any potential threat. A vital component of this effort is training its pilots in AAR techniques. However, due to the limited number of FRAs available in its fleet, the IAF has had to explore alternative methods to impart AAR skills to its pilots.

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