The Indian Air Force has reportedly told the Centre that it is ‘committed’ to buy indigenous aircraft but there’s a catch – there should be no delay in the delivery. In simple terms, this means that the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, the state-owned agency, must shed the repetitive delaying practice and work without any glitch to deliver the basic trainers and fighter jets to the Indian Air Force. It should be noted that the decision to buy desi jets is the first major policy step taken by new Air Chief RKS Bhadauria. In case this commitment translates into reality, the Indian Air Force will likely to acquire 300 aircraft from the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.
The latest development, which was reported by The Hindustan Times on Thursday, shows that the Indian Air Force is in no mood to suffer due to delayed deliveries and get cracking on the squadron deficit. Each squadron has around 18 fighter jets. The Air Force’s worries are not without a reason. The HAL had previously fallen behind the schedule. So far, the IAF has bought 40 jets, which are early versions of Tejas. As of now, the Indian Air Force is in dire need to put together 42 squadrons. Last month, there were reports that the Indian Air Force (IAF) may to ink a pact with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) for acquiring 83 Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) as negotiations over the price of the fighter jets are almost done.
In December last year, the Indian Air Force issued the request for proposal (RFP) to HAL for the procurement of 83 Tejas light combat aircraft at a cost of over Rs 50,000 crore.
The IAF had earlier placed an order with the HAL for 40 Tejas aircraft.
The Defence Acquisition Council, the defence ministry's highest decision-making body on procurement, had in November last year approved purchase of 83 Tejas Mark 1 A by IAF at a cost of Rs 50,025 crore.
Sources said out of the 83 LCA, 10 will be used for training purposes.
According to official figures, 14 squadrons of the MiG 21, MiG 27 and MiG 29 are due for retirement in the next 10 years which will bring down the fighter squadron strength to 19 by 2027 from the current 33. The strength may be further reduced to 16 by 2032.
The lifespan of the jet would be a minimum of 30 years just like any other frontline combat aircraft. The combat jets are classified under various generations depending on their avionics, capability and weapons systems. The current fleet of fighter jets with the IAF range from three-and-half generation to the fourth generation.