New Delhi, October 3
Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhri on Tuesday said the contract for 97 additional Tejas Mark 1A was expected to be signed this year.
It will cost about Rs 1.15 lakh crore, the IAF chief said.
The IAF chief was addressing the annual press conference ahead of the Air Force Day on October 8.
The IAF is going to procure 97 more Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas Mark-1A fighter jets. “We will sign with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). They may further allocate work to private sector,” the IAF chief said.
The number of 97 is not to reduce the existing projection of the Tejas Mark 2.
These 97 jets will be in addition to 83 such jets ordered by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in February 2021 under a Rs 48,000 crore order to public sector giant HAL.
On being asked if these 97 would have any improvement over the 83, the IAF chief said they would cater to growth in technology.
The prototype of the ‘Mark-1A’ version is already flying. A series of validations are being done and deliveries are scheduled to commence from February next year, the HAL has announced.
The IAF chief said the Indo-Pacific region is the new strategic challenge and added that the IAF would be critical in meeting this challenge.
On being asked if the requirement of 42 fighter jet squadrons was needed in the changing war fighting scenario, the IAF chief said, “We will need the numbers.”
He said the Soviet origin MiG 21 fighter jets are being phased out by early 2025.
The IAF will be carrying out a fly past over the Sangam -- the confluence of the Ganges and the Yamuna rivers. Among the other planes and copters, the C295 transport plane sourced from European aerospace major Airbus will make its debut.
S400 air defence missiles in a year
The IAF chief said the remaining two squadrons of S400 air defence missiles being imported from Russia would be here in a year.
India had contracted for five such squadrons; three were supplied before the Russia-Ukraine war.
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