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In a strategic move aimed at bolstering its aerial prowess and modernizing its fleet, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has taken a decisive step by placing orders for an additional 100 Tejas Mk1A fighter jets. The acquisition of 100 more Tejas Mk1A fighter jets will translate to an augmentation of five squadrons, making significant strides in replacing the retiring Mig-21 and Mig-29 squadrons.

The phased retirement of the Mig-21 and Mig-29 squadrons is a necessary step in the IAF’s evolution. The Mig-29, a stalwart in the IAF’s fleet for nearly four decades, is nearing the end of its airworthy lifespan. With around five to six years of operational viability left, the IAF’s plans to procure 21 unused Mig-29 aircraft from Russia faced a hurdle due to economic and trade sanctions imposed by Western and European countries.

The IAF’s history with the Mig-29 dates back to its early export endeavours, marking it as one of the first international customers for the Mig-29A variant. Initially designed with a 25-year airworthiness span, the Mig-29A’s lifespan was later extended to 40 years. The subsequent upgrade to the Mig-29UPG standard brought about significant enhancements and improvements, solidifying its position as a formidable aircraft.

Despite its legacy, the IAF has experienced losses in its Mig-29 fleet, with 11 aircraft lost over the past 23 years, the latest incident occurring in 2020. With the impending retirements and the challenges associated with procuring additional Russian Mig-29s, the IAF’s decision to invest in the Tejas Mk1A fighter jets is a strategic masterstroke.

The Tejas Mk1A, armed with advanced avionics, weaponry, and superior manoeuvrability, aligns with the IAF’s commitment to modernize its fleet and ensure its readiness for contemporary threats. This aircraft’s introduction not only bolsters national defence but also underlines India’s technological prowess and self-reliance in the defence sector.

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