To shore up the declining number of fighters in its fleet, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is set to place orders for 116 fighter jets by the end of this year.
The IAF will place an order for 21 MiG-29 fighters from Russia by December this year, a report in ThePrint says. These aircraft will be made for the IAF using the airframes which were built in the 1980s but never used.
While the airframes will be old, the fighters will be as capable as the upgraded version of the MiG-29s in service with the IAF currently.
The IAF will also place an order for 12 Su-30 MKIs. These aircraft will be built in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited at its facility in Nashik.
Over 250 Su-30 MKI fighters are in service with the IAF. The new aircraft will replace those lost in accidents over the years.
A deal for 83 Tejas Mark 1As is also likely to be inked by the end of the year.
Addressing the annual press conference yesterday (5 October), IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria said the induction of indigenously designed and developed Tejas fighters into the air force is a priority for him.
These orders will come at a time when the number of fighters in the IAF fleet is declining. While the IAF should have around 40 squadrons of fighters to deal with the threats India faces, it currently has only 30.
Many of these 30 squadrons operate obsolete MiG-21 fighters.
With no progress towards disengagement and de-escalation between India and China in eastern Ladakh, the IAF has moved a large number of fighters to its bases along the border with China in the eastern and western sector.
MiG-29s, Su-30 MKIs, Rafales and Mirage-2000s have been seen flying in Ladakh.
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