10:20 GMT31 October 2020
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    The Indian government prefers to purchase domestic made Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA) instead of an additional 44 French-built Rafale fighter jets.

    NEW DELHI (Sputnik) — The Indian government has rejected a proposal by the country's air force to purchase an additional 44 French-built Rafale fighter jets, opting instead for the cheaper and locally developed Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA), local media reported Wednesday, citing an Indian Defense Ministry source.

    "The IAF (Air Force) needs to have a minimum number of aircraft at all times. The LCA is our best option at this stage, given our resource constraints," the source said as quoted by The Times of India, adding that a Rafale deal would be an unnecessary expense.

    In April, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Francois Hollande agreed on the purchase of 36 Rafale fighters for the the Indian Air Force, to be designed and built by the French company Dassault Aviation.

    According to the newspaper, the country's air force operates 35 fighter squadrons but requires 10 more. By 2022, due to the age of the country's Soviet-made MiG-21s, the number of squadrons will be reduced to 25.

    India has been developing a domestic Tejas fighter for 32 years, following government approval in 1983. The aircraft had been set to enter service in 1994 when India canceled a proprietary engine for the Tejas, asking GE Aviation for assistance. A single Tejas aircraft has been produced to date, and that still pending final flight approval, which has been postponed until early 2016.

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    Tags:
    Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA), Rafale fighter jets, France, India
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