The Central Scientific Instruments Organisation (CSIO) laboratory has developed drogue illumination system for light combat aircraft Tejas, making India third in the world after the US and France to have this technology.
This will enable airto-air refuelling, which is not possible during night/cloudy skies for fighter aircraft. The system is expected to be ready by year-end. Also, the indigenous lighting system will be one fifth of the cost available with offshore vendors and have greater illumination even than Rafael. The Rs 2.51 crore project is funded by Aeronautical Development Agency, Bangalore. The illumination system is fitted outside the cockpit. Presently, the illumination system is undergoing rigorous certification tests by the ‘Regional Centre for Military Airworthiness’, an agency under the IAF. Usually in fighter aircraft, which carry ammunitions, the external fuel tank is removed to adjust weapons and therefore there is shortage of fuel after 45 minutes of flight time. “However, none of the fighter aircraft in our country has illumination system for night.
A pilot cannot land during a military operation and therefore lighting system is significant,” said Harry Garg, a scientist at the CSIO associated with the project. He said, “We have been informed by the IAF that only France and US have drogue illumination systems.”