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07:02 PM, February 22, 2019
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HAL Chief Confirms IAF Plans to Acquire 18 Su-30MKI, 21 MiG-29 Fighter Jets
Su-30MKI (image: DH)

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has confirmed plans of the Indian Air Force (IAF) to acquire an additional 18 Su-30MKI and 21 MiG-29 fighter jets, its Chairman R Madhavan said at Aero India 2019 on Thursday.

The procurement is intended to shore up the fighter fleet of the Indian Air Force (IAF) which has slunk to 31 squadrons; it’s lowest in over a decade. The jets would help to keep the manufacturing and servicing facilities of HAL afloat for several years more after the current order for the assembly of Su-30MKI gets exhausted in a year’s time.

In addition, the bulk of new additions to the IAF fleet would come from the locally-made light combat aircraft which received its final operational clearance in Bangalore Thursday.

HAL is expected a large order for over 120 aircraft- an advanced version of the Light Combat Aircraft, Tejas, in the next two to three months, R Madhavan said.

The first flight of LCA Mk-1A was likely to take place three years after the contract was signed, followed by full series production a year later. The air force plans to buy 83 Mk-1A jets, taking the total number of LCA variants ordered to 123.

Of the 123 planes on order, 20 each are in the initial operational clearance (IOC) stage and the more advanced final operational clearance (FOC) configurations. The LCA Mk-1A will come with additional improvements over the FOC aircraft, making it the most advanced Tejas variant so far. The Tejas received FOC for induction into the IAF as a combat-ready fighter at a ceremony held here on Wednesday.

Some of these variants could be equipped with active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar developed by the state-owned Electronics and Radar Establishment (ELRDE) a division of the Defence research and development Organization.

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