First LCA Mark1A fighter jet squadron to be deployed at Nal air base

The Indian Air Force (IAF) is planning to raise the first squadron of the indigenous LCA Mark1A fighter jet squadron at the Nal air base in Bikaner district of Rajasthan near the Pakistan front.

The aircraft, which would be much more advanced than the existing LCA Mark1 Tejas fighters, are being equipped with the latest indigenous radars and avionics.

The first LCA Mark1A aircraft is expected to be delivered to the Indian Air Force by February-March time frame by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, they said.

The LCA Mark1A fighter jet are now planned to be produced in large numbers as 83 aircraft are already under production and 97 more have been cleared by the central government.

Along with the 40 LCA Mark-1 Tejas fighters, a total of 220 LCA Mark 1 and LCA Mark1A aircraft are planned to be inducted into service in the next 8-10 years.

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited has also increased the rate of production of fighter aircraft and is expected to reach the 24 aircraft per year mark by 2025.

The IAF is going to replace the MiG series aircraft that have been in its inventory with the LCA variants.

The LCA Mark1A aircraft would be the replacements for its MiG-21s, MiG-23s and the MiG-27s. While the MIG-23 and MiG-27 have already been phased out by the force, two squadrons of the vintage MiG-21 are still in service and will be phased out soon.

The Indian Air Force is expected to use indigenous fighters to replace the Mirage-2000 and Jaguar aircraft in future.

As per the plans, defence sources said that the 10 squadrons of the LCA Mark 1 and Mark 1A, 12-13 squadrons of the LCA Mark-2 and the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft with the 13 squadrons of the Russian origin Su-30MKI will make up for the bulk of the IAF by the end of next decade.

The IAF is also clear about one thing it will now have only ‘Made in India’ fighter aircraft and would require around 120 Multirole Fighter Aircraft (MRFA) indigenously similar to the capability provided by the two squadrons of Rafale fighters to have the desired capability and capability to tackle the threats from both the fronts.