New Delhi: The Indian Air Force (IAF) has officially announced its intention to procure about 100 additional Made-in-India LCA Mark 1A fighter jets. It’s a significant move aimed at strengthening India’s aerospace capabilities.
The announcement was made by Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari, the Chief of the Indian Air Force while receiving the first C-295 transport aircraft in Spain. Speaking to a media agency, he underscored the pivotal role of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) in replacing the ageing MiG-series fleet, which includes the MiG-21, MiG-23, and MiG-27 aircraft.
Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari said, “With the retirement of these ageing aircraft, it is imperative that we bolster our inventory with LCA class aircraft. Therefore, in addition to the 83 LCA Mark 1A aircraft we have already contracted for, we are advocating for the acquisition of around 100 more.”
The objective in acquiring these domestically produced aircraft is to phase out the older MiG-series fighter jets in its fleet. The proposal has been formally submitted to the Defence Ministry and other national security stakeholders. This decision to procure approximately 100 more LCA Tejas fighters follows a comprehensive review meeting chaired by the Indian Air Force Chief, which included key stakeholders in the indigenous fighter jet program, such as Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
The order, if approved and realised, would represent a substantial expansion of the Indian Air Force’s LCA Tejas fleet. Over the next 15 years, the IAF is expected to have 40 LCA Tejas, more than 180 LCA Mark-1A, and a minimum of 120 LCA Mark-2 aircraft in its inventory.
The LCA Mark 1A stands as an advanced iteration of the Tejas aircraft, featuring upgraded avionics and radar systems compared to the initial 40 LCAs supplied to the Air Force. The first deliveries of LCA Mark 1A is anticipated around February 2024. Boasting a substantial indigenous component of over 65 percent, the LCA Mark 1A reaffirms India’s commitment to self-reliance in the aerospace sector. This program aligns seamlessly with the Atmanirbhar Bharat and Make in India initiatives, highlighting the nation’s unwavering dedication to achieving self-sufficiency in aerospace technology and manufacturing.