Indian Air Force chief RKS Bhadauria spoke about the need to enhance India’s defense technology in the wake of the Chinese threat and said this would be a surprise for adversaries in the next conflict. “Looking at the northern neighbors, we need niche technology that is built in-house. This is what will give us maximum results and spring surprises in the next conflict,” Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria said. He was speaking at the ‘Energising Indian Aerospace Industry: Challenges for Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ seminar. The Atmanirbhar mission has been the mantra to ensure India’s dependence on foreign manufacturers in defense reduces while the domestic industry flourishes.
The Air Force chief further said that the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) TEJAS has redefined and generated confidence among the forces to take up any project.
He said that over the next two decades, the Indian Air Force is looking at having 350 fighter aircraft, including the 83 TEJAS jets.
“Atmanirbharta needs to become the strongest pillar of national security and national pride,” the Air Force chief said. Out of the 83 jets, 73 will be the upgraded version of MK-1A in addition to the 40 MK-1 ordered before. With a total fleet of 123 jets comprising TEJAS MK-1 and MK-1A soon, the IAF is hopeful of filling up its depleting numbers as these will account for six more squadrons. The manufacturing of 73 TEJAS MK-1A jets will not only be a boost for the ‘Make in India’ mission but also help in filling the gaps as the IAF’s current fleet is down to 30 squadrons, way below the sanctioned strength of 42. Each squadron comprises 18-20 fighter jets and the IAF is short of nearly 200 fighter aircraft.
Next in line is the TEJAS MK-2 and the IAF has plans to induct 170 of these, which will be a better version of the MK-1A. But for that to happen soon, HAL has to speed up productivity and get to the next phase that will ensure the IAF has a potent indigenous fleet in the years to come.
The Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) is planned as a fifth-generation twin-engine fighter craft that the IAF aspires. The first flight of a prototype is expected by 2025. The Air Force chief said AMCA is also at an advanced stage.
Speaking about drone warfare and the challenges posed after the attack on the Jammu airbase, where unmanned aerial vehicles were used to drop bombs, the Air Chief Marshal said, “Lot of orders have been placed including of drones, counter-drone systems, jammers.” Overall, IAF has put all efforts to ensure future procurement from indigenous sources, he said.
Source: India Today