INDIA is mulling manufacturing one more line of fighter aircraft to replenish its dwindling fleet and a decision in this regard is likely to be taken in a year’s time, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha said on Friday (March 4).
The Chief of Air Staff said the second line of fighter jets will be in addition to light combat aircraft Tejas and 36 Rafale planes that India will procure from France.
“Definitely they (government) are thinking to set up one more line of fighter aircraft in a year under the Make in India project so that the dwindling fighter aircraft fleet can be replaced within shortest possible time,” Raha said.
He was asked how the IAF is going to replenish the diminishing number of its fighter aircraft.
“This plan is going to materialise in a year’s time…Addition of new aircraft to the IAF fleet through indigenous technology is also being worked out, with the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) providing 120 LCA,” he said.
The IAF chief said the Rafael multi-role fighter plane contract with France was likely to be through soon.
“Rafale contract is likely to be through as a lot of progress has been made. The outcome will be substantial in the first year itself. We are yet to work out modalities. The government is willing to spend more to improve operational capability of the armed forces.”
Raha was speaking at a press conference held at Jamnagar air force base where President Pranab Mukherjee awarded two units of the IAF - 28 Equipment Depot and 19 Helicopter Unit - with Presidential Colours and Standard, respectively.
India is likely to get 36 multi-role fighters from France-based Dassault Aviation under a government-to-government agreement, which is under negotiations.
On nearly 10 per cent increase in defence budget estimates for 2016-17 at Rs 2.58 lakh crore as compared to last fiscal, Raha said more money will help cover inflation, replace and upgrade existing aircraft and related technology, and give a push to acquisition of equipment.
“Technology is fast becoming obsolete and within 15-20 years, any platform faces obsolescence, which needs to be replaced and updated. We are upgrading Miraj 2000, MiG 29 and Jaguar to achieve effective operational capability,” he said.
Talking about the security of IAF bases in the country following the Pathankot terror attack, Raha said the government has ordered a special review of these facilities by a core committee.
“The committee is going to submit its report by March 31,” the IAF chief added.