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03:33 PM, September 30, 2015
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Indian Air Force Light Combat Aircraft Tejas MK-1

India plans to induct at least seven squadrons of indigenous Tejas Mark 1-A Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) into Indian Air Force despite flaws to keep the program alive.

The Indian Air Force has agreed to induct the LCA as it urgently needs more than 120 light weight fighters to intercept enemy aircraft and other defense missions, NDTV reported Wednesday.

Earlier the air force agreed to induct 40 Tejas aircraft but it had severe flaws with "shortfalls in meeting the engine thrust and other parameters such as weight of the aircraft, fuel capacity, and pilot protection from front against 7.62 mm bullets," Comptroller Audit General said.

There are doubts about the LCA’s ability to carry required payload of weapons. The Indian radar also needs to be replaced with Israeli radar.

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and defence public sector unit Hindustan Aeronautics Limited or HAL, who are manufacturing the LCA, have promised a more agile Mark 1-A.

The Tejas Mark 2, expected to address the flaws in the Mark 1-A, will not be ready for induction or series production before 2024-2025.

Changes will be made in the ballast and the landing gear making the Tejas Mark 1-A about 1000 kg lighter than its 6500-kg predecessor. Delivery can begin next year, Officials told NDTV said. "The IAF needs to have a minimum number of aircraft at all times. Till the time the indigenously built Tejas Mark II is ready this is best option available," Defence Ministry sources were quoted by NDTV as saying.

The Air Force will find itself very short of fighters after it decommissions three squadrons of its MiG 21 and one MiG 27 squadron this year; it will lose the rest of its 10-odd squadrons of the vintage Russian-made MiGs by 2022.

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