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SOURCE:  MAHESHA M / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG

India’s first combat jet HF-24 ‘Marut’ is now long forgotten that many of my countrymen continue to doubt capabilities of our engineers and scientists when country talks about developing upgraded Tejas Mk1A, Mk2, TEDBF and AMCA combat jet programs making India the only country after china to have so many new fighter jet programs in the world for the first time that many are wondering are we are thinking of running before even we could walk?

HF-24 ‘Marut’ had created an Aerospace Industry which could have not been in a coma if the successor programs could have got approvals of then government and the users. my countrymen tend to forget that while HF-24 suffered due to under-powered engines it performed well and was prematurely retired from the force due to the availability of cheaper jets from foreign countries.

HF-24 might have been was designed and developed by a German team headed by Kurt Tank but it had created local expertise in HAL that we were able to come up with newer fighter jet proposals in no time and many of the programs proposed by HAL was very promising and were achievable only if serious efforts were made to be independent of imports.

Not many know that after HF-24 program there were at least five fighter jet programs which were proposed by HAL and that included Ground Attack Fighter GAF-1, Advanced Strike Aircraft ASA, HF-73 Hindustan Supersonic Strike (HSS) and Air Superiority Fighter ASF-300 and HF-25 programs which never got the approvals or the backing it wanted. Imagine talent back then that Jaguar and F-15 class aircraft were designed and proposed way back in the ’70s by our engineers and scientists who were confident in their abilities to build them but when most of the programs were never cleared our Aerospace industry went into a coma and when revival started it was too late.

When the LCA program commenced, talent and expertise were long gone by mid-’80s and lack of experience in the development of 3rd generation fighter programs and modern and demanding technologies of the 4th and 4.5gen programs made it near impossible for India to start its rebound in the aerospace sector with the bang. many were convinced that the LCA program is bound to fail and India will be back to buying cheaper jets from foreign countries in no time that some of our parliamentarians called it a waste of money.

LCA program recreated the aerospace sector in the country which had long gone into a coma after the failure of successor programs to take off after the HF-24 program. LCA program created a path for the development of upgraded Tejas Mk1A, Mk2, TEDBF, and AMCA combat jet programs and for the first time government as well as air force is keen to have back this programs. Imagine India developing Jaguar and F-15 class aircraft back in the 70s successfully and inducting them, the country’s air power today could have been 100% indigenous by now and no one could have doubted our capabilities in developing 5th or even 6th gen fighters like they do now.

LCA-Tejas program is India’s rebound to future fighter jet programs and local expertise which it has developed painstakingly from the early ’90s. other then aero-engine sector, almost all technologies that go in a fighter jet have been developed locally now and indigenous content in Mk2, TEDBF, and AMCA combat jet programs is only set to grow further to the north, as we develop more and more technologies locally. we simply can’t afford to make the same mistakes we made after the HF-24 program, we need to back our programs so that MMRCA winner might be the last fighter jet India ever has brought from a foreign country.

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