In a significant achievement for the indigenous fighter aircraft program, the Indian Air Force (IAF) deployed the home-grown Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) TEJAS on the western front along the Pakistan border in view of the tensions with China on the Ladakh front reported the Economic Times.

"The TEJAS was deployed by the Indian Air Force on the western front close to the Pakistan border to take care of any possible action by the adversary there," government sources told ANI.

The first TEJAS squadron, 45 Squadron (Flying Daggers) based out of Sulur under the Southern Air Command, was deployed in an operational role there, the sources said.

The indigenous TEJAS aircraft had been praised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his Independence Day speech where he had stated that the deal to buy the TEJAS Mark-1A version was expected to be completed soon.

The single-engine, fourth-generation, multi-role light fighter was designed by the Aeronautical Development Agency with collaboration from the Aircraft Research and Design Centre (ARCD) of the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for the Indian Air Force (IAF) and Indian Navy. Development began in the 1980s as part of the LCA program to replace the aging MiG-21 fighters, but it wasn't until early 2001 that the aircraft took its first flight.

Questions Raised On Effective Deployability

Questions are being raised by paid proponents in the foreign media to promote and then ultimately sell a particular brand of foreign fighter planes to India. They content by disparaging the TEJAS that why it is not being deployed in the LAC against the Chinese Air Force but on the western front to confront Pakistan. They suggest that the IAF has concerns that its fighter couldn't take on China's J-20 fighter jet?

How many in the west are fully aware of the capabilities of the Chinese J-20 stealth (supposedly) jet, leave alone its comprehensive specifications? None, of course, because there has never been an official release or disclosure of the fighter's actual capabilities/specifications by the Chinese authorities. Besides, many western aero experts have questioned its stealth design so much so that they have badged these fighters as only 4th gen. So, how can they predict that the J-20 could be better than TEJAS leave alone the Rafale, whose specifications are available in the public domain.

Let us remember, if it is wasn't for the Modi govt the TEJAS would have long been dead and buried. In other words crores of public money would have got flushed down the drain without the TEJAS seeing the light of day. It also means, India's over dependence on foreign weaponry would continue if not grow as the capability to build a new fighter in the near future would have been severely curtailed. Former defence minister of the NDA, the late great Manohar Parrikar was singularly responsible to resurrect the TEJAS from its planned demise. Earlier, AK Anthony had ensured meekly of its untimely death.

Capabilities of Rafale

We are well aware what a good plane the Rafale really is. It is one of the newer jets in the market to have proved its capabilities in recent skirmishes across the globe. Days before India celebrated its 74th Independence Day, the newly arrived Rafale fighter jets have shown its valour by night flying over skies in Himachal Pradesh.

Even though the aircraft kept a safe distance from the Line of Actual Control (LAC), where India is currently engaged in a border dispute with China, the night flying of the Rafale fighter aircraft will send strong signals to the Chinese Army about Indian Air Force's operational preparedness. It is worthy to note that the war-time signature of Rafale will be different from that in practise mode.

The Rafale aircraft is capable of carrying a range of potent weapons.

European missile maker MBDA's Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile, Scalp cruise missile and MICA weapons system will be the mainstay of the weapons package of the Rafale jets. Defence sources said anti-air multi-target MICA Beyond Visual Range was missile fired from Sukhoi-30MKI for the first time and successfully recently which destroyed expendable aerial targets (EATs), demonstrating its stealth capabilities. Ahead of the planned integration with multi-role combat aircraft Rafale, the IAF test fired two rounds of Beyond Visual Range (BVR) air-to-air missile MICA from the fighter jet. MICA is one among the standard fitment for the Rafale platform.

TEJAS has also demonstrated similar capabilities with its test firing of varied weaponry but the need of the hour is to deploy Rafale's instead of the TEJAS jets in lieu to the ambiguities prevalent in the specifications of the Chinese stealth jets. This author believes in case of an aerial conflict with PLAAF, China would never engage its J-20s against a more powerful IAF, instead they would send their older J-10 fighters for the battle.

Besides, the IAF also believes that the TEJAS would be more than a match for the JF-17's a clone of the revered Soviet/Russian MiG-21. In fact, the PAF fighter shares most of its critical components with the Russian jet.

Therefore, this proves the immense confidence the IAF has on the TEJAS and to showcase the abilities of the TEJAS if it is deployed to the LAC.

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