The Indian Air Force has a need for 120 Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) to equip six squadrons, air force chief Arup Raha said on 3 October. An equal number of ‘Rafale-type’ fighter jets should ideally complement the Tejans. The outlook for the Tejan MkII – a futher development of the indigenous fighter jet – seems uncertain.
The Indian Air Force is currently working up to Final Operational Clearance (FOC) for a dozen or so of Tejan jets. FOC was originally set for the end of 2015 but should now should be achieved by March 2016
The Tejan has been in development for over 30 years and it still a troubled design. Manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has suggested four major design changes. Indian Air Force says it would like to acquire 120 jets if those changes are made. The order total now stands at 40.
The air force chief made it clear that the 36 Dassault Rafales for the Indian Air Force are not enough in his eyes. Another 120 or so ‘Rafale-type’ jets should accompany the Tejas jets in the future. The contract for 36 Rafales still has to be finalized, however. Negotiations for more Rafales seemed to have hit a dead end earlier this year.
Meanwhile, it seems unlikely the Tejas MkII will take to the sky in 2017 as planned earlier. That variant should incorporate a more powerful engine and an air-to-air refueling capability.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: A Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), designed and produced by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. (Image © Hindustan Aeronautics Limited)