As TEJAS completes seven years of service, ALL EYES ARE ON HAL’S DELIVERY OF THE 83 MK-1A

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According to the plan, starting in February of next year, India must independently build 480 fighter jets: 380 for the IAF and 100 twin-engine jets for the Navy. The country’s military readiness and independence will be determined by how rapidly these jets can be produced.

The IAF’s current jets, the first 40 TEJAS, were delayed in production, but that is a sour memory. In 2006, the IAF placed an order for 20 aircraft worth Rs 2,813 crore, then in December 2010, it placed an additional order for 20 aircraft worth Rs 5,989 crore. By December 2016, all 40 were expected to be delivered. The deliveries, however, were finally finished in February of this year, seven years after they were supposed to.

The delay in the production of the TEJAS planes was discussed by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence in its report to the House on March 21 of this year.

After the inauguration of a new factory in Nashik, HAL’s current yearly production capacity is up to 24 jets. The production capacity must be increased to 40 jets annually in order to reach the aim of 480 planes.

According to the Ministry of Defence, “Deliveries of the 83 TEJAS MK-1A aircraft are anticipated to start in February 2024.”

According to sources, it would be followed by 100 twin-engine deck-based fighters for the Navy, 126 advanced medium combat aircraft jets, and 120 TEJAS MK-2 planes. Beyond the 83 already bought, they added, a further order of 50 TEJAS MK-1A aeroplanes is also anticipated.

In contrast to the 42 squadrons of fighter jets required to counter a collusive two-front threat against Pakistan and China, the IAF now only has 32 of them (16–18 aircraft per squadron).

The four squadrons of MiG-21 fighter jets from the Soviet era—each squadron contains 16–18 aircraft—will all be retired over the course of the next two–three years. The SEPECAT Jaguar, MiG-29, and Mirage-2000 jet fleets of the IAF, which were all introduced in phases during the 1980s, are expected to be phased out after 2029–2030. There are around 250 of each of these four types of jets, and they have a long lifespan.

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