This is the moment a Russian multifunctional fighter-bomber performs a precarious high-altitude refuelling procedure just 20 metres away from the tanker.
The Russian Ministry of Defence said in a statement on Sunday, November 7, that Su-34 multifunctional fighter-bombers and a Su-24MR reconnaissance aircraft performed training flights both during the day and at night over Russia’s Chelyabinsk region.
Ten aircraft and some 200 flight and engineering personnel from the Air Force and Air Defence Association of the Central Military District were involved in the training exercise.
The footage released by the Ministry shows one of the Su-34 fighters flying at high-speed just 20 metres (66 feet) from an Il-78 tanker refuelling aircraft.
The refuelling hose is released by the aircraft and attaches to the fighter, which holds its course while its tanks are filled.
After successfully refuelling, the Su-34 returns to the military base and lands smoothly despite the snowy conditions.
Further refuelling missions were carried out both at night and in the day at various altitudes between 2,000 and 6,000 feet (610 and 1,829 metres).
According to the Ministry, the pilots were also put to the test through several severe-weather refuelling exercises.
The Ilyushin Il-78 seen in the clip is a Soviet-era four-engined aerial refuelling tanker that carries a fuel load of 85,720 kilogrammes (188,980 lbs) and transfers the fuel to other aircraft through the probe-and-drogue refuelling method.
The Sukhoi Su-34, NATO codename ‘Fullback’, is a Soviet-era twin-engine, all-weather supersonic medium-range fighter-bomber.
The supersonic fighter can reach a maximum speed of 1,900 kilometres per hour (1,181 mph) and a cruising speed of 1,300 kilometres per hour (808 mph).
The ‘Fullback’ is armed with a 30 mm Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-30-1 autocannon, a variety of air-air, air-surface and anti-ship missiles.
When running bombing campaigns, the Fullback can be equipped with dozens of different explosives including laser-guided and satellite-guided bombs.
The Su-34 has played a central role in Russia’s ongoing military intervention that began in 2015 in the Syrian civil war that began in 2011.
Su-34s carried out several bombing runs against rebel and ISIL forces throughout Syria and against the leaders of the Al-Nusra Front, which is also known as al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch.
According to the Ministry, the training exercises were successful even though mid-air refuelling is one of the most difficult elements of flight training.
The Ministry added that despite the risks posed by mid-air refuelling, it is necessary, as it allows the military to increase the range of its combat units by reducing the number of times fighters need to return to base.