To ensure that the fighters’ fleet in the Indian Air Force (IAF) does not go down any further from the present 31 fighter squadrons, various approaches are being taken to realize this with the budget under the Make in India initiative.
In an exclusive interaction with Financial Express Online, IAF Chief Air Marshal VR Chaudhari said, “IAF endeavours to fill the deficiencies through planned inductions of LCA variants, MRFA and AMCA in a phased manner.”
According to the Chief, improvements in technological capability and increase in the numerical strength are both long drawn processes that require necessary financial support. “Force development has to be critically harmonised with the envisaged threats and available financial outlay to factor the time-bound build-up of human resources, infrastructure and support systems,” he added.
Sharing details of which aircraft is being added Chief Air Marshal VR Chaudhari said “the induction of two squadrons of LCA Mk-1 (one Squadron in IOC and one Squadron in FOC configuration) is underway. Further, procurement of 83 LCA Mk-1A aircraft with improved capabilities is under progress. There is a need for induction of a fifth generation fighter aircraft into the IAF inventory.”
Defence Research and Development Organisation ( DRDO) has commenced development of the indigenous Advance Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) and IAF is providing active support on AMCA development.
Also read: Exclusive Interview with IAF Chief: ‘Indian Air Force is progressing well on a capability driven modernization plan’
When will the first batch of LCA Mk1 be inducted?
The first LCA Squadron was formed on July 1, 2016 and the second Squadron was set up on April 1, 2020. “We have received 25 aircraft out of the total 40 contracted. And another 11 aircraft are expected to be delivered by March next year with the balance being delivered in 2023-24,” he explained.
Adding, “Even though the deliveries of LCA have been delayed, the induction of a modern indigenously produced fighter aircraft has enhanced the op potential of IAF manifold.”