Source : Indian Defence Analysis
|An Indian Air Force LCA Tejas Mk-1 (File Photo)|
The squadron strength of 42 is the magic number that Indian Air Force wants to achieve for handling two front war situation and maintain higher degree of operational readiness as well as air surveillance. However, even in another one decade, IAF will not be able to achieve this number. IAF will have to rely more on the quality & capabilities of aircraft rather than quantity. However, the fact cannot be undermined that IAF at its present state is undersized. IAF cannot maintain 24X7 combat air patrol or air defense watch given the huge geographical area to cover.
At the same time there been constant strive to increase the squadron strength via indigenous fighter jets.
Recently Shiv Aroor from Indian Today has revealed about the Mission 470. As a part of this, India is to induct 470 indigenously designed and developed fighter jets in the coming years. This will not increase the squadron strength of India Air force and Navy, but also reduce the dependency on foreign countries such as Russia & France.
133 LCA Tejas Mark 1A for Indian Air Force
In the last Aero India show i.e. in the year 2021, HAL has bagged order of 83 LCA Tejas Mark1A for Indian Air Force which includes 73 single seater aircraft and 10 twin engine trainer. As per the contract, HAL is required to deliver the first three aircraft in 2024 and 16 aircraft annually for the next five years.
HAL is very confident of commencing the delivery of first LCA Tejas Mark 1A, from February 2024. HAL has upgraded the LCA Tejas Mark1 with serial production number SP-25 to Mk1A level. The aircraft secretly took its first flight on 20th May 2022.
It’s being reported by renowned defence blog LiveFist that the Indian Air Force may go for an additional 50 LCA Tejas Mark1A under follow-on orders that will be placed years ahead to take the total number of LCA Mark1A to 133.
108 LCA Tejas Mark 2/Medium Weight Fighter for Indian Air Force
The next indigenous fighter jet which will be ready in coming years is going to be LCA Mark-2. As a part of mission 470, 108 LCA Mark-2 will be procured. During Aero India 2023, the DRDO chairman Dr Samir V Kamat has said that the LCA Mk-2 will be ready for induction by 2028. LCA Mark-2 will be much more capable fighter jet than LCA Mark1A with a more powerful AESA radar and powerful engine, IRST sensor & better weapons payload.
126 AMCA (40 Mk-1 and 86 Mk-2) for Indian Air Force
The next aircraft to enter production after LCA Mark2 is going to be AMCA and TEDBF. In the Aero India 2023, the DRDO chief has informed that the first flight of the aircraft will happen in 7 years i.e., somewhere in 2030 and induction in next 2-3 years. AMCA Mark-2 will be much more powerful aircraft with a powerful engine which is yet to be developed in partnership with foreign OEM. The Plan is to procure 126 AMCA.
100 TEDBF (Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter) for Indian Navy
During the defence expo 2022, ADA project director of TEDBF has reported that the TEDBF program can be executed in 8-years after the funding approval from CCS is given.
ADA is expecting funding clearance from the Cabinet Committee on Security by June 2023. Once its approved, it will take another 4-4.5 years for roll out of the first prototype, which means that the first prototype can be expected around 2028 and fighter jet can enter into production by the year 2032.
Indian Navy has planned to procure 100 TEDBF fighter jets. In summary, 133 LCA Mark1A, 108 LCA Mark2, 126 AMCA & 100 TEDBF fighter jets. This sums up to 467 fighter jets.