Plugging IAF's Dwindling Fighter Strength: Air Chief Announces Plans For Buying 100 More Indigenous Tejas MK-1A Fighter Jets
In a significant announcement, the Indian Air Force (IAF) Chief Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhari has confirmed plans to buy an additional 100 indigenously made Tejas MK-1A fighter jets.
ACM Chaudhari made this announcement while speaking to the media at the Airbus Defence and Space factory in Seville, Spain, where he was taking delivery of the first C-295 transport aircraft for the IAF.
During the media session, the Chief confirmed that the IAF intends to acquire 100 more Tejas Mk-1A jets to fill the gaps in the IAF fighter fleet following the retirement of Mig-23, Mig-27, and Mig-21 jets.
"The LCA was developed from the ground up for replacement of the large MiG series fleet including the MiG-21, MiG 23 and MiG-27 aircraft. With the phasing out of all these aircraft, it is essential that we have adequate numbers of the LCA class aircraft in our inventory. So, apart from the 83 LCA Mark 1A that we have already contracted for, we are moving a case for around 100 more aircraft," the IAF Chief said.
It is worth noting that the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas was designed as a direct replacement for the Soviet-made Mig-21 single-engine aircraft.
The IAF had already placed an order for 83 Tejas Mk-1A aircraft in 2020 at a cost of more than $5.2 billion, with the first deliveries expected to commence in March 2024.
The Tejas Mk-1A is an upgraded version of the Tejas Mk-1 jet, which first flew in January 2001. Currently, 32 of these jets are in operation with the IAF, with the remaining eight double-seater trainer jets under construction.
Tejas Mk-1A variant will come with around 40 major and minor improvements over Tejas Mk-1.
These improvements include the introduction of an active electronically-scanned array radar for detection of enemy aircraft at greater ranges and resistance to jamming, and a faster turnaround of each aircraft, after each sortie.
With this additional order of 100 jets, the total number of Tejas jets ordered will exceed 180, in addition to the 40 Tejas Mk-1 jets already under delivery.
This procurement of 100 additional jets will also help bridge the gaps in the IAF's dwindling fighter strength, which has decreased to just 31 squadrons, as opposed to the government-sanctioned strength of 42.
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