Asserting that the made in India light combat aircraft Tejas is far better and advanced than the Chinese-Pakistani JF-17 fighter jets, Air Force chief RKS Bhadauria on Thursday said the latest Indian jet would be better equipped to carry out Balakot-type airstrikes.
In an interaction with ANI, the Air Chief said the 83 indigenous fighter jets to be inducted into the force would also be equipped with homegrown weapons such as the Astra beyond visual range air to air missiles and other standoff weapons. “Indian aircraft Tejas is far better and advanced than the Chinese and Pakistan joint venture JF-17 fighter,” Bhadauria said when asked to compare the Indian fighter with the JF-17.
To a query on whether the Tejas would be able to carry out Balakot-type airstrikes, the Air Chief said: “In terms of strike capability, it will have the capability of a standoff weapon which will be even beyond the capability we used that time.” Noting the approval of the largest indigenous defence procurement deal to buy 83 LCA Tejas, Air Chief Bhadauria said that the deal is a huge step for IAF capability building, adding that the current strength of the two squadron plan of LCA will now increase to six.
“Order of 83 aircraft is huge. When this kind of order takes shape in the next 8-9 years, the entire ecosystem will get set up. For military aviation, it will be a big step. It will make a big base for fighter aircraft production, maintenance and support,” IAF Chief told ANI.
“It is a huge step for IAF capability building. It is also a big boost to our indigenous industry. It is also a big recognition of our designers. It is a huge step for Indian Air Force and for the country,” he added. On the possible deployment of the newly procured aircraft, he said, “The 83 aircraft will look after four squadrons. The current strength of the two squadron plan of LCA will now increase to six. Essentially the deployment will be frontline.”
On Wednesday, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the largest indigenous defence procurement deal worth about Rs 48,000 crores to buy 83 LCA Tejas Mark1A fighter jets. The deal to be signed in the next few days with HAL would strengthen the Indian Air Force’s fleet of homegrown fighter jet ‘LCA-Tejas’ and overall combat capability.
“The CCS chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi today approved the largest indigenous defence procurement deal worth about Rs 48,000 crores to strengthen IAF’s fleet of homegrown fighter jet ‘LCA-Tejas’. This deal will be a game-changer for self-reliance in the Indian defence manufacturing,” Defence Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted.
The deal would be a major boost for the IAF and help it to arrest the fall in the number of its fighter aircraft squadrons. Light Combat Aircraft Mk-1A variant is an indigenously designed, developed and manufactured state-of-the-art modern 4+ generation fighter aircraft. It is the first “Buy (Indian-Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured)” category procurement of combat aircraft with an indigenous content of 50 per cent which will progressively reach 60 per cent by the end of the programme.