83 New Tejas Light Combat Aircraft(LAC) are included in the IAF fleet. What is the Tejas LCA all about and what’s the total strength of IAF aircraft? Read on to know!

PM Modi-led Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) cleared its 48,000-crore deal for 83 Light Combat Aircraft ‘Tejas’. This can be seen as the first of many collaborations between the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and private companies as part of PM’s ‘Make in India’ campaign.  

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh announced the decision on Twitter and said the deal is worth Rs. 48,000 crore and will strengthen the Indian Airforce’s current fleet of homegrown fighter jets. 

In another one of his tweets, the defence minister labelled the light combat aircraft Tejas as the backbone of the IAF fleet for the years to come. 

In a statement, the Indian Defence Ministry said that the cost of the deal was Rs. 45,696 crores. Besides the deal cost, design and development of infrastructure sanctions were Rs. 1,202 crores. According to the deal, the HAL will be delivering 73 Tejas Mk 1A and 10 Tejas Mk1 trainers by the year 2026. 

Tejas Mk 1A is a highly advanced version of LCA Mk1 (FOC) that is currently used by the IAF for service. The new Tejas Mk 1A comes with 4 new capabilities over the current variant. This includes mid-air refuelling, operational rules improvement, enhancement in combat ability, improvements through features like Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) Radar, Electronic Warfare (EW) suite and BVR missile capabilities.  

According to a statement by the Defence Ministry, the Tejas Mk1 has an indigenous content of 50% which will be increased up to 60% by the end of the programme.  

“It is the first “Buy (Indian-Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured)” category procurement of combat aircrafts with an indigenous content of 50% which will progressively reach 60% by the end of the programme,” said Defence Ministry in a statement. 

It also said that the manufacturing of Tejas aircraft will give a boost to the Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) and give a push in defence production in the country.  

 “About 500 Indian companies including MSMEs in the design and manufacturing sectors will be working with HAL in this procurement. The programme would act as a catalyst for transforming the Indian aerospace manufacturing ecosystem into a vibrant Atmanirbhar-self-sustaining ecosystem,” said Defence Ministry in its statement said. 

The Indian government has been focusing on increasing its local defence production and has also set a target of Rs. 1.75 lakh crore ($25 billion) turnover in its defence manufacturing by the year 2025. The Indian armed forces are going to spend around an estimated $130 billion for procurement in the next five years.  

It should be noted that the IAF had issued a tender for procurement of 83 Tejas three years back. The Tejas aircraft was a four and a half-generation combat jet that is still manufactured by the state-run HAL.  

Indian Air Force Fighter Squadron Strength

The list we have compiled here is by type of aircraft. It starts with the oldest and runs down to the most modern. The list does not include helicopters, surveillance aircraft and other transporters. 

  • MiG 21: (Three types – Bison, Bis and M/MF) 04 + 01 + 01 

The MiG 21 is a “single engine, single seater multirole fighter/ground attack aircraft of Russian origin which forms the back-bone of the IAF. It has a max speed of 2230 km/hr (Mach 2.1) and carries one 23mm twin barrel cannon with four R-60 close combat missiles.”

  • MiG 27 UPG (upgraded): 02 

The MiG27 is a “single-engine, single-seater tactical strike fighter aircraft of Russian origin having a max. speed of 1700 km/hr (Mach 1.6). It carries one 23 mm six-barrel rotary integral cannon and can carry up to 4000 kg of other armaments externally.”

  • Jaguar: 06 (including one upgraded) 

The Jaguar is a “twin-engine, single seater deep penetration strike aircraft of Anglo-French origin which has a max. speed of 1350 km /hr (Mach 1.3). It has two 30mm guns and can carry two R-350 Magic CCMs (overwing) along with 4750 kg of external stores (bombs/fuel).”

  • Mirage 2000: 03 (2 upgraded) 

According to the Indian Airforce, the Mirage 2000 is a “single-seater air defence and multi-role fighter of French origin powered by a single-engine can attain a max speed of 2495 km/hr(Mach 2.3). It carries two 30 mm integral cannons and two matra super 530D medium-range and two R-550 magic II close combat missiles on external stations.”

  • MiG 29: 03

The MiG29 is a “twin engine, single seater air superiority fighter aircraft of Russian origin capable of attaining max. speed of 2445 km per hour (Mach-2.3). It has a combat ceiling of 17 km. It carries a 30 mm cannon along with four R-60 close combat and two R-27 R medium range radar-guided missiles.”

  • Sukhoi 30MKi: 11 

“It is capable of carrying a variety of medium-range guided air to air missiles with active or semi-active radar or Infrared homing close range missiles. It has a max speed of 2500 km/hr (Mach 2.35),” says the Indian Airforce’s official description of the aircraft.

  A total of 31 squadrons is the current IAF’s squadron strength. These squadrons are fully operational and in an event of a crisis can be combat-ready.