INDIAN Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria on Friday strongly backed indigenous development of a fifth generation fighter jet and said the IAF was working on an ambitious modernisation plan to bolster its combat capability. Addressing a press conference, Bhadauria said the plan includes induction of more Tejas and Sukhoi aircraft, integrating of indigenous ASTRA beyond visual range missile across platforms and upgrading the Jaguar jet fleet among others. He said the issue of pricing of 83 Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA) to be manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has almost been finalised and the contract is likely to be signed soon.
Asked about IAF’s plan to acquire 114 fighter jets, he said leading aircraft manufacturers have responded to the initial tender and adequate priority is being given to expedite the acquisition process. Last year, the IAF issued the initial tender known as the Request for Information to global aircraft companies to produce the jets in India along with an Indian firm. On the fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA), he said the IAF fully supports the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft project of the HAL and that there was no plan to import any such jet. “No plans for importing a fifth generation jet. The AMCA project is being given go ahead. We have given full support to it. The programme is taking off,” he said, in first clear view of the IAF on the project. Last year, India conveyed to Russia its unwillingness to go ahead with the joint development of a FGFA primarily due to the high cost involved in the project.
‘1st 4 Rafale jets to be operational in May 2020’: Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria said the first Rafale fighter jets will be seen in Indian skies only by the end of May 2020. Responding to a query
by IANS, Bhadauria said that India will receive the first four of the 36 Rafale fighter jets by May 2020.
“The advantage of getting the Rafale in May next year will be that our pilots will be substantially trained by then,” said Bhadauria.
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