The Indian Air Force has said that the domestically manufactured Tejas Light Combat Aircraft is not fit enough to protect the Indian skies.
The IAF said the Tejas is far behind its competitors like the JAS 39 Gripen manufactured by the Swedish aerospace company Saab and the US made F-16 manufactured by Lockheed Martin, sources were quoted as saying by India Today Friday.
The IAF made a presentation to the government to explain why Tejas alone can't meet India's requirements.
National Security Adviser Ajit Doval is understood to have raised the issue after the government asked the IAF to scrap its plans to acquire foreign made single engine fighters and go for the Indian made fighters only.
The IAF has told the government that the "endurance" of Tejas in combat is just about 59 minutes as against 3 hours of Gripen and nearly 4 fours for the F-16. Also, Tejas can carry a pay-load of about three tons against nearly six tons and seven tons by the Gripen and F-16 respectively, according to the documents accessed by the news channel.
"In other words, for target that needs about 36 bombs to be destroyed, one will have to deploy six Tejas as against just three Gripen or F-16," the IAF has told the government.
The IAF has also said Tejas needs 20 hours of serving for every hour of flying as against six hours for Gripen and 3.5 hours for F-16.
The cost of maintaining the Tejas is much higher than the other fighters. Also, both the F-16 and Gripen has a life-span of 40 years against just 20 of Tejas. And, in some areas the vintage Russian made Mig-21 is better than Tejas, the IAF is understood to have told the government.
The IAF was earlier reluctant to buy the LCA but due to continuous pressure by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, the Air Force had agreed to buy around 80 more planes from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, making it into a success story.
The Indian Navy has also junked aircraft carrier version of the home-grown Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas as the LCA did not meet the requirements in December last year.
The Ministry of Defence, issued an RFI to procure approximately 57 Multi-Role Carrier Borne Fighters (MRCBF) for aircraft carriers of the Indian Navy in January this year.
The Navy currently operates Russian MiG-29K fighters from the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya and which will also fly from the first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) Vikrant once it enters service. The MiG-29Ks were procured by India with the INS Vikramaditya and it is the only country in the world to operate the aircraft.