The first squadron of home-grown light combat aircraft Tejas will be inducted in the Indian Air Force in Bengaluru on Friday.
Tejas is far better than MiG-21s in terms of safety. As a fourth generation aircraft, Tejas can fly at 1,350 km per hour and is comparable to the world’s best fighters, including French Mirage 2000, American F-16 and Swedish Gripen.
State-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited will hand over the first two Tejas aircraft to the IAF for ‘Flying Daggers’ 45 — the name of the first squadron of the LCA.
The aircraft are likely to perform a sortie during the induction ceremony.The squadron will be based in Bengaluru for the first two years before being moved to Sulur in Tamil Nadu. Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, who on May 17 took his maiden flight in Tejas, had termed the aircraft as “good” for induction.
The LCA squadron induction ceremony will be held at the Aircraft System Testing Establishment in the presence of Air Marshal Jasbir Walia, Air Officer Commanding-in Chief, Southern Air Command, officials said.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had said “next year I think two MiG-21 squadrons are being decommissioned; this will go into initially replacing them.”
The upgraded version of Tejas, with active electrically scanned array radar, unified electronic warfare suite, mid-air refuelling capacity and advanced beyond-the-vision-range missiles, will cost between Rs 275 crore and Rs 300 crore.
Tejas is a single engined, multi-role supersonic fighter, 8.5 tonnes and can carry three tonnes of weapons, including air-to-air missiles, laser guided bombs, guns, conventional/retarded bombs and beyond visual range missiles.
The LCA is superior to Pakistan’s JF-17 built jointly with China, the IAF has said.
Tejas will feature in the combat plan of the IAF next year and will be deployed in forward bases also. All squadrons of Tejas will have 20 planes in total, including four in reserve.
As per the plan, while 20 would be inducted under the “Initial Operational Clearance”, another 20 will be inducted later with Beyond Visual Range Missile (BVR) and some other features.