SOURCE: Satyajeet Kumar/ FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
Indian Air Force fielded all 8 LCA-Tejas MK1 fighter jets in the largest military exercise in three decades. Gagan Shakti 2018 which began on April 10 and would conclude on April 23 saw the participation of 160 Su-30 aircraft and several other fighter aircraft.
14 day Air Exercise is IAF’s high-intensity combat exercise which will mimic actual war for a small period of 14 days. For LCA-Tejas MK1 Squadron this was first time aircraft actively carried out operations with other aircraft fleets of the IAF .
Each Tejas Aircraft is carrying out minimum 3 sorties per day and it also carrying out multi-mission operations with other aircraft. As per reliable sources, IAF pilots from other Squadrons were seen very much interested in checking out locally developed LCA-Tejas fighter jets.
Pilots of first Tejas Squadron largely coming from Mig-21 and Mirage-2000 background always had high praise for the smallest combat jet in the world and as the squadron expands with new aircraft deliveries, more pilots will be joining them soon.
Former Mirage-2000 Pilots have called Tejas much easier to land than Mirage and have also complemented its handling capabilities when flying in close formations. Next batch of Pilots joining in will be from Sukhoi-30MKI Squadrons which will allow free flow of ideas and tactics which can be used to make a formidable combination of LCA-Tejas and Sukhoi-30MKIs in various Air Interceptions Missions.
IAF is also exploring ways to make Sukhoi-30MKI aircrafts Mini tanker and Mini-AWACS for LCA-Tejas in their operations. With Buddy refueling pods, HAL and DRDO engineers are confident that air-to-air refueling between two aircraft is possible and will be demonstrated when LCA-Tejas is cleared for in-flight refueling.