SOURCE: Anand SG / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
With Tejas MK-2 Project all set to go official soon and Indian Air Force showing interest in procurement of 201 units of the new upgraded and a more capable locally designed fighter jet, IAF for the first time in its History is moving towards Indigenisation
of its fighter fleet.
IAF currently has 33 combat squadrons against a sanctioned strength of 39.5, which is sought to be raised to 42, in next couple of years. In IAF each Squadron roughly makes up of 18 aircraft and 42 squadrons means fighter fleet of 756 Combat aircraft.
Due to the large-scale retirement of fighter aircraft from IAF service combat squadron strength is likely to further slip in coming years but the course correction will start once Tejas MK-1A deliveries are completed by mid of 2025.
The composition of IAF with an Indigenous Combat aircraft was never more than 23% even after 1971 war when IAF was rapidly expanding and India’s first home-grown fighter aircraft HF-24 was in full-scale production and had a run of 175 units before production came to an end by early 80’s.
With Confirm orders of 40 MK1 and 83 MK1-A, Plus with likely order of 201 units of Tejas MK-2 by 2030, Composition of IAF Combat fleet for the first time will comprise of 42% of the combat aircraft made of Indigenous locally developed aircraft.
Good news is that India’s 5th Generation AMCA Project which will go official soon and enter production by 2030 will only further improve the composition of the Indigenous fighter fleet in IAF and it is likely to rise over 56% by 2035 (if 100 units are ordered of MK1 Variant).
IAF is likely to adapt to changing combat scenarios and fighter aircraft procurement and modernisation with the advent of modern unmanned fighter aircraft assisted with AI technology, Ghatak UCAV and its successor will be adapted as direct replacement for the manned fighter jets which will further improve composition of local combat aircrafts in the Indian Air Force by 2040 .
By 2030, If Government of India does kickstart Su-30MKI replacement program and invests in the development of a Heavy Category aircraft then by 2050 over 70% of the combat fleet can be made up entirely of locally developed Manned/Unmanned Combat aircraft.
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