Jamnagar, March 4 (IANS) India is considering manufacturing indigenously a second line of fighter aircraft and a decision on the issue will be taken within a year, IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha said on Friday.
Asked about the depleting squadron strength in the Indian Air Force, he said there were aircraft that will soon become obsolete, and while the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft Tejas and under-process Rafale deal will help fill some of the gap, India still needs one more line of fighter planes, which will be made in India.
“One more line of fighter aircraft is likely to be made in India.
“Within a year, some decision will be taken on what will be the second line of the fighter aircraft,” he said.
The IAF chief said he expected the deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets with France to be concluded soon.
Rafale is a multi-role twin-engine aircraft designed and built by Dassault Aviation of France. The initial plans were however to buy 126 Rafale jets, a deal which could not fructify, after which a government to government contract was signed to buy 36 jets off shelf.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has said that the indegenous Tejas aircrafts can replace the MiG-21 which are set to retire soon.
The first squadron Tejas is expected to be delivered by 2017-18.
India’s squadron strength is down, with reports suggesting that only 32 squadrons are operational at present, compared with the ideal number of 42 squadrons.
Raha was at the frontline Jamnagar airbase for the ceremony where President Pranab Mukherjee presented the President’s Standard to the IAF’s 119 Helicopter Unit and President’s Colours to 28 Equipment Depot.