The Indian Air Force will launch the first squadron of Made-in-India Tejas fighter jets, christened “Flying Daggers”, here on Friday. Two fighter jets and one trainer variant of ‘Tejas’ will be commissioned by deputy chief of air staff, Air Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria, almost a month-and-a-half after Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, flew the combat aircraft and remarked that it was a “good aircraft for induction into the IAF.”
Group Captain Madhav Rangachari, who flew the fighter along with the IAF chief, will be the first Commanding Officer (CO) of the squadron which would be positioned in Bengaluru initially and moved to Sulur in Tamil Nadu after a couple of years, sources in the ministry of defence told Deccan Chronicle.
Sources said every squadron of ‘Tejas’ would consist of 20 jets, including four in reserve. While the first 20 aircraft would be inducted with requirements which match ones set for “Initial Operational Clearance” or IOC, another 20 would join the IAF fleet with advanced systems and Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missile.
The IAF plans to induct over 80 aircraft with enhanced specifications known as Tejas 1A. These aircraft would replace the fleet of ageing MiG 21 and would be deployed for air-to-air combat and ground attack and could also act as a complement to other fighter jets such as the Su 30 MKI.
The upgraded version of ‘Tejas,’ with Active Electrically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, unified electronic warfare suite, mid-air refuelling capacity and BVR missiles, would cost between Rs 275 crore and Rs 300 crore.
Meanwhile, sources in Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) said as per the production plan, six fighter aircraft would roll out this year, eight next year, and 16 aircraft after a couple of years. Sri Lanka and Egypt have evinced interest in importing ‘Tejas’ after the jet’s debut at the international air show in Bahrain in January 2016.