Chinese military recently released a video, showing that a Su-30 fighter jet was being refueled by an IL-78 air-refueling aircraft.
China had only smaller HY-6 tanker aircrafts in the past, which is based on H-6 bombers. China’s better Y-20 aerial refueling aircraft hasn’t been in service yet.
Jane’s Defense Weekly reported in November 2014 that China had received at least one IL-78 tanker plane from Ukraine and China ordered totally three refurbished IL-78 air-refueling planes from Ukraine in 2011.
Besides, it was also reported that China ordered 34 IL-76MD transport planes and four IL-78 refueling planes from Russia in 2005, but the plan ran aground later.
As China now has about 100 Su-30 fighters, nearly 300 J-10 fighters, and plans to have a large number of J-15, J-16 and J-11D in the future, which will still demand many more aerial refueling aircrafts. And with aerial refueling planes, Su-30 will be more capable of dealing with F-15 fighters of Japan equipped with auxiliary fuel tanks above the East China Sea.