Changing its long standing stance on the abilities of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is now convinced that an improved version of the homegrown fighter that is being ordered will perform better that the JF17 that is being produced in Pakistan.
The IAF is placing an order for 100 modified Tejas aircraft in addition to an older order for 20 planes, confident that it would beat the Pakistani competitor on four parameters — reach, weapons, ability to kill anWith the upgraded LCA line to be activated, the air force will rejig its fighter procurement plans to accommodate 120 of the indigenous planes within the next 11 years, defence ministry officials said. "This line of Tejas will fill an acute shortage as our Mirage, Jaguars and MiG-29s are due to retire in 10 years," a defence ministry official told ET.
The air force has, however, asked Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to add newer capabilities in the Tejas. The four new specifications include an Active Electronically Scanned Array ( AESA) radar, along range beyond visual range missile, air-to-air refueling and electronic warfare capability which will enhance survivability of the aircraft, senior defence ministry officials said. "Once HAL and ADA assures the design and development of this Tejas variant, the air force will step up to order 100 additional aircrafts after the first 20 are delivered," the official said.