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Will LCA Be Another MBT?

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 IAF has accepted to place the demand for additional LCA MK-IA with HAL, however, it is to be seen whether HAL will be able to ramp up the production rate and fulfill its promise to meet the SQR or it will go the MBT way…

HAL worried about the future of its production line after it delivers 40 Mark I fighters by end-2019 has managed to convince both MoD and the IAF to accept 120 improved Tejas Mark IA fighters despite its flaws, as it continues to grapple with thrust issues, fuel capacity and protection to pilot against small arms etc. HAL has promised that the Tejas, once productionised, will meet the SQR requirements of air-to-air refueling, improved radar & missiles to strike enemy aircraft beyond visual range and electronic jammers to blind enemy radar. IAF chief Arup Raha on October 8 said: “We are ready to take 120 Tejas for six squadrons as soon as they (HAL) can provide it. That means they have to ramp up the production rate, which is running behind schedule… But we will take all 120.” Though, he retains the IAF's conviction that it is essential to have at least six squadrons of the Rafale. The government has however turned down the IAF's request to expand the acquisition of 36 fighter planes from Dassault Aviation to plug vital gaps, convincing them to accept an indigenous combat plane 35 years in the making.

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