India conducted a successful maiden flight of its Tejas MK-1 for 40 minutes on Tuesday. Almost a quarter-century after the project was first conceived, India began the production of its own Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas in February 2019.
Tejas MK-1 is equipped with battle-ready capabilities, including mid-air refuelling, AESA radar, an electronic warfare array, Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missile system, and smart bombs.
Terming the production within a record time of 12 months as momentous, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited will now be producing the remaining 15 fighters, which are scheduled to be delivered in the next financial year.
The Indian Air Force, which urgently needs to maintain its present squadron strength, contracted with state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the procurement of 83 fully loaded Tejas fighter jet.
India needs a squadron strength of 42 (18-20 fighter jets in a squadron) to fight a two-front war with Pakistan and China simultaneously, according to a parliamentary panel.
However, even with 36 Rafale jets, six squadrons of Tejas (including the Tejas Mark 1A) and two more squadrons of Su30 MKI, India’s squadron strength will remain below 30, even by 2032.