Light combat aircraft (LCA) MK-1A, an improved version of TEJAS of the Indian Air Force, could be inducted by early 2024 in a newly raised squadron at one of the operational bases of the IAF.

This has been indicated by IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari after the Managing Director of the plane maker Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) assured deliveries of TEJAS MK-1A would commence by February 2024.

The decision was announced after the TEJAS program was reviewed here yesterday. At the review were senior functionaries from the Ministry of Defence, DRDO, Aeronautical Development Agency and HAL.

The Ministry of Defence said: “With timely deliveries of the more capable variant, the TEJAS MK-1A is likely to see increased deployments at forward bases.” Over the next two years, all three squadrons of the Soviet-era MiG-21 fighter jets will retire. The Jaguar, MiG-29 and Mirage-2000 jet fleets — all inducted during the 1980s — are slated to retire in batches beyond 2029-30.

As per plan, from February next year, for the next 14-15 years (till 2038-39), India needs to produce some 390 fighter jets for the IAF on its own.

Production of 83 TEJAS MK-1A jets is scheduled to be followed by 130 TEJAS MK-2 jets; 126 jets of the advanced medium combat aircraft (AMCA) and another order of 50 jets of TEJAS MK-1A is expected.

TEJAS Test-Fires Indigenous Missile

The light combat aircraft (LCA) on Wednesday successfully fired the ASTRA indigenous BVR air-to-air missile off the coast of Goa. “All the objectives of the test were met and it was a perfect text book launch,” the Ministry of Defence said.