Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria on Thursday said the indigenously-developed Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas is far better and more advanced than China's JF-17 fighter aircraft manufactured by Pakistan's aeronautical company, adding that the newly added jets will be equipped for Balakot-type airstrikes.
Welcoming the government's approval to the Rs 48,000 crore deal to procure 83 LCAs from the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the Chief of Air Staff in an interview to ANI said, "Indian aircraft Tejas is far better and more advanced than the Chinese and Pakistan joint venture JF-17 fighter. It will have top of the line Beyond Visual Range (BVR) class of air-to-air missile Astra, and other sensors and weapons."
On being asked on the aircraft's capabilities in carrying out Balakot-type airstrikes, the Air Chief Marshal said, "In terms of strike capability, it will have the capability of a standoff weapon which will be even beyond the capability we used that time."
The Tejas Mk-1A will be equipped with active electronically scanned array radar, beyond visual range missile, electronic warfare suite and air-to-air refuelling and would be a potent platform to meet the operational requirements of the IAF, according to official statements.
The 83 aircraft will look after four squadrons, he said to question on the fighter aircraft's deployment in the IAF. "The current strength of the two squadron plan of LCA will now increase to six. Essentially the deployment will be on the frontline," he added.
Terming it "a huge step for IAF" in achieving self-reliance in the aerospace and aeronautics sector, he said: "It is also a major boost to our indigenous industry and a big recognition of our designers. It is a huge step for the Indian Air Force and for the country."
"Order of 83 aircraft is huge. When this kind of order takes shape in the next 8-9 years, the entire ecosystem will get set up. For military aviation, it will be a big step. It will make a big base for fighter aircraft production, maintenance and support," IAF Chief added.
Earlier in the day, Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said the government's decision for the purchase of Tejas Aircrafts will help to create more than 50,000 jobs in the country.
The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday okayed the much-awaited deal to boost Indian Air Force's combat prowess.
The deal came three years after the Indian Air Force had issued an initial tender for the procurement of 83 Tejas aircraft, a four-and-half generation combat jet which is manufactured by State-run aerospace behemoth HAL.
The IAF has already inducted a batch of Tejas aircraft as part of its initial order of 40 jets. The government has also approved infrastructure development by IAF under the project to enable it to handle repairs and servicing at its base depots so that the turnaround time of the aircraft could be reduced and their availability can be increased for "operational exploitation".
The government has been majorly focusing on boosting domestic defence production and set a target of Rs 1.75 lakh crore turnover in defence manufacturing by 2025. According to estimates, the Indian armed forces are projected to spend around USD 130 billion in capital procurement in the next five years.
(With PTI Inputs)