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IAF Chief strongly backs indigenous 5th generation jet, says no plan to import

Last year, the IAF issued the initial tender known as the Request for Information to global aircraft companies to produce the jets in India along with an Indian firm.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Oct 05, 2019, 07.42 AM IST
Indian Air Force Chief Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria
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Making a strong case for indigenisation, the Indian Air Force (IAF) on Friday said there is no plan to import next-generation fighter jets and it will rely on Indian efforts to develop the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) for future requirements.

Batting strongly for Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), Air Chief RKS Bhadauria said the plan is to induct it in large numbers, with the immediate case for 83 aircraft to be manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) heading towards a signing. The Air Force Chief said the focus for future procurements will be to cut down on imports and promote the Indian industry and research organisations that are developing combat systems.

The officer made it clear that IAF would only go for the HAL developed HTT 40 aircraft for its requirement for basic trainers in the immediate future.

“On the fifth generation (requirement), the AMCA has been given a go ahead and we have given it our whole support and are putting in our energies there. No import is planned in the foreseeable future,” the air chief said in response to a question by ET.

Making it clear that the budgetary support planned is only for the indigenous AMCA, the air chief said it has been decided to take on the project and technology and weapons capability is being developed.

On the LCA, the Air Force Chief said after the order for 83 jets of the Mk 1 A variant, the IAF will go for a larger order of the more advanced Mk 2 version. “The AMCA and the LCA Mk 2 will be parallel projects. They will have different teams and will go on independently,” he said.

For the immediate requirement of fighter jets, the officer said 12 more Su 30 MKIs would be ordered but said the order for 36 more Rafale fighter jets has not been moved formally yet. Giving an update on the plan to produce 114 fighter jets in India with a foreign partner, the Air Chief said the process to initiate the selection is being worked on but did not specify a timeline.
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