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The Indian Air Force (IAF) has renewed its efforts to secure a wet lease agreement for a refuelling tanker from France, specifically Airbus A330 MRTT, to meet the growing demand for air-to-air refuelling training. This initiative aims to cover training requirements for various Indian fighter aircraft, including the Rafale, Su-30MKI, Jaguar, and Tejas.

The IAF currently faces challenges in conducting a minimum of 100 hours of monthly training due to the limitations of the IL-78-based air tankers. These tankers have been plagued by low serviceability issues, hampering training activities. To address this issue and ensure uninterrupted training, the IAF is seeking alternative solutions.

To bridge the gap, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to convert civil passenger aircraft into Multi-Mission Tanker Transport (MMTT) aircraft within India. However, the delivery of these converted tankers to the IAF is estimated to take another 4-5 years. Consequently, the IAF is exploring the option of leasing the Airbus A330 MRTT to fulfil its immediate training requirements.

The Airbus A330 MRTT is a versatile aerial refuelling tanker that offers advanced capabilities and a proven track record in air-to-air refuelling operations. By leasing this aircraft, the IAF aims to bridge the training shortfall caused by the limited serviceability of the existing fleet.

The wet-lease agreement would allow the IAF to utilize the Airbus A330 MRTT for a specific period, providing the necessary training resources and capabilities. This arrangement offers a practical solution while the indigenous MMTT conversion program progresses.

Air-to-air refuelling training plays a crucial role in enhancing the operational capabilities of the IAF. It enables fighter aircraft to extend their endurance, increase mission range, and maximize operational effectiveness. By acquiring a reliable and efficient refuelling tanker, the IAF can ensure that its pilots and crews receive the required training to maintain their proficiency and combat readiness.

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