SOURCE: ANAND SG / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari since he took office in late September this year has been omitting to mention the planned induction of the LCA MkII that is under development in his interviews with the Indian media. In the latest issue of the SP Aviation Publication, when asked about how he plans to arrest the decline of fighter squadron levels, he again said that IAF plans to induct 114 MRFA, 83 Tejas Mk1A (Four Squadrons), 12 Su-30MKI, 21 Mig-29UPG, and 7 Squadrons of AMCA in the coming year to get squadron levels back to 35.
Chaudhari repeatedly since taking office has been talking and stressing about induction of AMCA but has been deliberately or in his oversight has not been talking about the induction of 7 squadrons of LCA MkII that was planned to play a crucial component of the future IAF fleet that will replace the 3 types of fighter jets in the IAF after it starts getting inducted from 2029 onwards.
A small section of Defence analysts in the country for a while now have been calling for dropping plans to induct 4.5 Gen LCA MkII jets and instead have been advocating procuring and inducting more of the 5th gen AMCA jet when both go into production sometime in the late years of this decade. Recently idrw.org report claimed that the AMCA TD-1 Rollout has been planned for 2024 and the first flight in 2025, LCA MkII rollout is planned at end of next year and the first flight is planned in 2023. While it seems both program even though are in development in parallel but are being developed neck in neck with similar timelines that is often leading to discussions about why IAF should avoid inducting another 4.5 gen platform when world over air force are inducting 5th gen fighters and have stopped induction of the 4.5 gen fighters. .
Previous Two IAF Chiefs have backed development and induction of LCA MkII jets in large numbers but there has also been a trend of decline in projected orders number of the jet from 201 to 140 in recent years. New Air Chief not talking about LCA MkII and instead of looking forward to induction of AMCA seems to be due to intense lobbying that is taking place both inside and outside IAF to drop plans of inducting LCA MkII. We can only hope that the LCA MkII program remains on schedule and repeated omission of the jet is not deliberate and the program has the full backing of the new air chief and the IAF. If IAF Chief does back AMCA over LCA MkII due to advancement of the jet then he should explain why IAF is still keen on inducting 4.5Gen MRFA when India has been offered 5th Gen platforms like Su-57, Su-75 and even F-35.
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