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LCA Tejas and its future variants will form mainstay of IAF: Defence ministry

An undated photo of indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas. On July 1, 2023, the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) completed seven years of service in the Indian Air Force. Photo: PTI/PRO (DEFENCE)

NEW DELHI (PTI):  The Indian Air Force is expected to get deliveries of Light Combat Aircraft Tejas MK-1A from February next year, and the new variant of the indigenously-built jet will be capable of firing a plethora of weapons, including beyond visual range missiles, the Ministry of Defence has said.

As the jet completes seven years in service in the IAF, the ministry said the aircraft and its future variants will form the mainstay of the Indian Air Force (IAF).

In February 2021, the ministry sealed a Rs 48,000 crore deal with state-run aerospace major Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd for procurement of 83 Tejas MK-1A jets for the IAF.

Tejas is a single-engine multi-role fighter aircraft capable of operating in high-threat air environments.

Egypt, Argentina, the US, Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines are among the countries showing keen interest in procuring Tejas aircraft.

On last Saturday, the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) completed seven years of service in the IAF.

"The confidence that the IAF reposes in the Tejas is borne by its order for 83 LCA MK-1A," the ministry said.

The ministry said the LCA MK-1A will have "updated avionics as well as an active electronically steered radar, updated electronic warfare suite and a beyond visual range missile capability."

"The new variant will be capable of firing a plethora of weapons from increased stand-off ranges. Many of these weapons will be of indigenous origin. The LCA MK-1A will see a substantial increase in the overall indigenous content of the aircraft," the ministry said.

It said the deliveries of the aircraft are expected to commence in February 2024. Tejas has been designed to undertake the air defence, maritime reconnaissance and strike roles.

The ministry said Tejas offers carefree handling and enhanced manoeuvrability, and that this capability is further enhanced with its multi-mode airborne radar, helmet mounted display, self-protection suite and laser designation pod.

The first IAF squadron to induct the Tejas was No 45 squadron, the 'Flying Daggers'.

Over the years, the squadron progressed from Vampires to Gnats and then onto the MiG-21 Bisos, before being equipped with its current steed.

Each of the aircraft flown by the Flying Daggers has been manufactured in India -- either under license production or having been designed and developed in India.

In May 2020, No 18 Squadron became the second IAF unit to operate the Tejas.

The IAF has showcased India's indigenous aerospace capabilities by displaying the aircraft at various international events, including at Dubai Air Show in 2021, Sri Lanka Air Force anniversary celebrations in 2021, Singapore Air Show last year and Aero India Shows from 2017 to 2023.

Whilst it had already participated in exercises with foreign air forces domestically, the exercise Desert Flag in the United Arab Emirates in March was the Tejas' maiden exercise on foreign soil.


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