Despite technical flaws, Indian government has made up its mind to to induct indigenous Tejas Mark 1-A Fighter Aircraft. The plan is to induct this into at least seven squadrons of the Indian Air Force. Each squadron will have about 16 to 18 aircraft.
Teja Mark 1-A is Made-in-India plane, which is Light Combat Aircraft (LCA). This move is to make up for a shortage of fighters in the Indian Air Force.
The Tejas Mark 1-A is slightly more capable than the first-cut LCA. But, the aircraft still has some serious flaws and limitations as per technical experts. For instance, there are doubts about its ability to carry the required payload of weapons. Also, the current model is fitted with Indian-made radar, which is inferior in its quality and performance compared to any aircraft of its category. Indian Air Force feels the need to replace it with Israeli radar going forward. Moreover, the IAF was apprehensive about fighter pilot’s security from the front side against 7.62 mm bullets. Other issues were related to engine thrust, overall weight of the plane, landing gear, and fuel capacity.
The IAF will induct more than 120 lightweight fighters in its fleet. The role of these aircraft will be to intercept enemy aircraft. The IAF is only inducting the plane to keep Teja program alive.
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and defence public sector unit Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), organizations involved in the manufacturing the LCA have promised a more agile Mark 1-A.
As per Defence Ministry “the IAF needs to have a minimum number of aircraft at all times. Till the time the indigenously built Tejas Mark II is ready this is best option available.”
The Tejas Mark 2, expected to address the flaws in the Mark 1-A, will not be ready for induction or series production before 2024-2025.
Recently, the IAF decommissioned three squadrons of its MiG-21 and one MiG-27 squadron. It will lose 10 more squadrons of the vintage Russian-made MiGs in the next seven years i.e. by the end of 2020.
The Modi government is buying 32 Rafale fighters from France. These planes will be delivered in the next five years.