Despite being critical of the fighter jets combat-readiness (even after three decades of development), the Indian Air Force (IAF) has now agreed to induct 324 indigfenously-built Tejas fighters in the long term.
For now, the IAF has agreed to buy 123 present-day Tejas fighter jets at a cost of over Rs 75,000 crore, it has stated that the next 201 Tejas Mark-II jets should be “entirely new fighters” with "upgraded avionics and radars, greater fuel and weapons carrying capacity, and more powerful engines," The Times of India reported on Thursday, 15 March quoting top sources.
The report in the English daily added that, the single-engine Tejas fighter jet has an “endurance” limit of just an hour, while its “radius of action” is limited to 350 to 400 kilometres.
Further, its weapon-carrying capacity is just three tonnes. In comparison, other existing single-engine fighter jets like the Swedish Gripen-E and the American F-16 have two times the weapon-carrying capacity and triple the endurance, the report said further.
“The Tejas Mark-II is still on the drawing board. But if DRDO, Aeronautical Development Agency and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd deliver the required Mark-II fighter, IAF has agreed to have a total of 18 Tejas squadrons,” a source told TOI.
The IAF's 'firm commitment' to Tejas fighter jets come at a time when the number of squadrons are down to just 31 (18 jets in each) compared to the at least 42 required to deal with the threats posed by China and Pakistan.
(With inputs from The Times of India)
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