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Approval to procure 97 more LCA Tejas Mk 1A jets is a landmark event, it is a potent aircraft capable of replacing MiG series fighters: IAF chief

"With the winding down of the MiG 21 and the MiG 27 and 23 fleets in the past, this is an ideal fit to replace the depleting strength," Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari said on the Tejas LCA fighter jet

Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari on Thursday said the nod given by the Defence Ministry to procure 97 more LCA mark 1A fighter jets marks a ‘landmark event’ and demonstrates the force’s commitment towards ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’.

Speaking to ANI, Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari said, “It is indeed a landmark event that the approval has been given for procurement of 97 additional LCA mark 1A. You are aware that we had signed a contract for 83 LCA mark 1As, the deliveries for which are to start shortly in the next few months. We already had 40 LCAs of the original IOC and FOC version.”

Stating that LCA mark 1As is an ideal fit to replace the depleting strength in the Air Force, the Air Chief Marshal said, “So with this, in the long run, the strength of the Indian Air Force will grow to 220 LCA mark 1As, which will equip almost ten squadrons of the Air Force. With the winding down of the MiG 21 and the MiG 27 and 23 fleets in the past, this is an ideal fit to replace the depleting strength.”

“It’s a very capable and potent aircraft and it gives our trust in the Indian defence industry capabilities. It shows that we firmly are committed towards Atmanirbhar Bharat and ensuring that a large number of our items on our inventory are made in India,” he added.

Earlier, on Thursday, the Defence Ministry cleared the proposal for the acquisition of 97 LCA mark 1A fighter jets for the Indian Air Force at a cost of around Rs 65,000 crores.

According to defence officials, a proposal for buying 156 LCH Prachand choppers has also been approved by the Defence Acquisition Council while an upgrade plan for 84 Su-30MKI fighters has also been cleared. The proposals are worth Rs 1.6 lakh crore and, all, are indigenous projects.

On the acquisition of LCH Prachand choppers, Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari said, “The requirement for having a very agile combat helicopter was felt immediately after the Kargil conflict and this indigenous development of the LCH or the Prachand has given a tremendous boost to our capability in war fighting in this domain of helicopter combat operations.”

“We had procured 10 of them initially, for the Indian Air Force, the light combat helicopters, and they have proven their worth. They are indeed very agile, they are capable of carrying out multiple tasks even at high altitudes and these will definitely enhance the capability of the armed forces and the Air Force in particular,” he added.

IAF chief added that after the acquisition of 156 LCH, it is most likely that the Air Force will stop importing attack helicopters.

“This huge tranche of 156 LCH should suffice to meet our own requirements of both the Army and the Air Force,” he said.

Calling Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent sortie in Tejas Aircraft a ‘landmark event’, the Air Force chief said that this gives confidence to the Indian domestic manufacturing ecosystem as it has received endorsement from the highest office of the country.

“The output of the effort of so many people in the industry, in the defence industry, has really borne fruit and we are now capable of even exporting this aircraft to other countries. You’ve seen the follow on order which will come from the Air Force for 97 additional LCA. All this is a huge step towards Atmanirbharta. It was a tremendous message not only to the Indian Air Force, and Indian Armed Forces but also to the Indian defence industry,” he said.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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