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Singapore 2008: India to induct two squadrons Tejas Light Combat Aircraft from 2010

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Singapore 2008: India to induct two squadrons Tejas Light Combat Aircraft

from 2010

By Siva Govindasamy



India is to induct two squadrons of the long-delayed Tejas Light Combat

Aircraft from 2010, with up to six squadrons possible if the first batch

impress in operations.


The decision is a shot in the arm for the programme, which national research

organisation Aeronautical Development Agency developed and state-owned

contractor Hindustan Aeronautics is responsible for production.

The long-delayed and much derided aircraft was to enter service early this

decade, but design and performance issues and problems with the development

of an indigenous engine have delayed it.


“There were hitches in the past but in the tests that we have been doing

over the last few months indicate that those have been resolved. The

programme was streamlined and it is a much better aircraft now. We are

confident that it can serve our needs,” says Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi

Major, Chief of Air Staff, at the Singapore Airshow.



The induction of the LCA, a replacement for India’s aging MiG fighters such

as the MiG-21s that is scheduled to be retired in 10 years, will boost the

service’s operational capability.

The programme’s problems and delays in the progress of a tender to select

126 multi-role combat aircraft (MRCA), led some analysts to say that the

Indian Air Force’s operational capability could soon fall below optimal


New Delhi has tried to overcome this by ordering additional Sukhoi Su-30MKI

fighters that are licence-produced in India by HAL.


Responses to the request for proposals (RFP) for the MRCA competition will

be submitted in the first week of March, and ACM Major says that the first

aircraft will be delivered in 2012.

“As the Chief, I’m in a hurry to rejuvenate the service as soon as

possible,” he adds. “I will do my darnest to ensure that we keep to that



The Boeing F/A-18E/F, Lockheed Martin F-16, Eurofighter Typhoon, RAC MiG-35,

Dassault Rafale and Saab Gripen are in contention for the $12-15 billion

contract, an indication that India seeks to move away from its traditional

dependence on Russian arms.

The relationship with Moscow, however, remains strong through joint

programmes to develop a Medium Transport Aircraft and fifth generation



“The relationship with Russia is excellent, they have been very good

friends. But the political imperatives of the past that dictated that we

source almost everything from them has changed.

That’s good for India, which has top companies from around the world keen to

do business with us. It leaves us in a good position to get the best deal,”

says ACM Major.

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