New Delhi, July 9: The indigenous fighter jet Tejas has missed another deadline to be fully combat ready. The Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas was first approved in 1983. The government is hopeful that the jet will get final operation clearance by 2018. Even after several revisions, the single-seater Tejas has not been able to get FOC. The Tejas is a supersonic, single seat, single jet, multi-role light fighter designed by Hindustan Aeronautical Limited (HAL).
Till now only nine Tejas aircraft have been inducted into ‘Flying Daggers’ 45 Squadron of the IAF. It is to replace the ageing Mig-21. HAL will provide 40 Tejas Mark 1 in two phases, 20 for Initial Operational Clearance (IOC), while the rest 20 for FOC. In December 2017, Defence Acquisition Council had also cleared procurement of 83 LCA Tejas Mark 1A. These 83 Tejas Mark 1 A will be an advanced version of Tejas Mark 1 with four major improvements. According to a report published in The Times of India, the estimated cost of 123 fighter jets has exceeded more than Rs 75,000.
Tejas aircraft were also put to test during Indian Air Force’s biggest war-like exercise, Gagan Shakti. IAF officials had expressed satisfaction over the performance of the aircraft but at the same were worried about the slow production rate.
The IAF is currently facing a shortage of fighter jets. The strength of fighter squadrons has reduced to 31 against the authorised strength of 42 squadrons. In April this year, The IAF had issued a Request for Information to procure 110 fighter jets. Six global manufacturers have also responded to the RFI. The entire deal will be worth $ 15 billion. Now the IAF will evaluate the bid from Boeing’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Lockheed Martin’s F-16 Fighting Falcon, Dassault Aviation’s Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Saab’s Gripen and Russian United Aircraft Corporation’s MiG-35. After evaluation, the force will issue a Request for Proposal. 85 perecent of the fighter jets will be manufactured in India under ‘Make in India’ project.