No. 45 Squadron of the Indian Air Force (Flying Daggers) based at Sulur AFS, Tamil Nadu, which is also the first LCA-Tejas Mk1 Squadron has clocked 2000 sorties in last three years with just a small fleet of 18 aircraft said the latest report from the Squadron. Tejas Mk1 aircraft in possession of the Squadron have been averaging at least two sorties per day and many of the pilots from the Squadron are all praise of the indigenously developed fighter jet.

The bulk of the sorties have been clocked in the last 18 months after deliveries of IOC-Configured Tejas Mk1 by HAL said a HAL official close to and many teething issues have been resolved at an even faster pace due to continued availability of HAL technicians at the base.

Pilots from Mirage Squadrons who are currently flying Tejas Mk1 are of high praise of the nimble fighter jet which they rank above Mirage-2000 when it comes to the handling of the aircraft in flight. Availability to customize its weapons package and hard work which is going to develop tactics and training schedule for future pilots of the upgraded 83 Tejas Mk1A jets is why pilots are enjoying their time in down south before they are deputed at the forward airbase close to Pakistan in the western sector in near future.

The second Squadron of Tejas Mk1 will be commissioned later this year and more and more pilots are been trained by the first Squadron for the later to be fully in charge of the squadron. The second Squadron is likely to be placed in North India and some reports hints it will be in the Srinagar air force base to replace Mig-21Bis squadron currently deployed there.

HAL official close to has confirmed that American supplied GE-404 engines have maintained their niggle free operations when maintained as per OEM and even squadron level technicians are of high praise of service schedule of the engine and ease of maintenance and how spares ordered reach on time. since for many technicians, this is for the first time they are working and servicing an American made engine and there are all high praise for it.

Coming back to Pilots, GE-404 engines powering Tejas Mk1 have displayed a high level of safety standards and most impressive has been its ferry range which is more than or at par with larger jets. Ex-Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa had said that F404-GE-IN20 engines have excellent fuel efficiency which he has rarely seen among contemporary fighter jets he has flown. Dhanoa who is a Mig-21 Veteran compared MiG-21bis’s R-25 engine with F404-GE-IN20 and said that fuel efficiency you had from F404 at 8000 feet altitude you only get that around 30000 feet altitude when flying a MiG-21.

The same has been said that the ferry range of the Tejas Mk1 is similar to that of the Jaguar Strike aircraft which is surprising due to Mk1 being a smaller jet that has displayed the same level of ferry range as that of larger twin-engine Jaguar Strike aircraft. At Gagan Shakti 2018, 8 Tejas Mk1 performed remarkably well and emerged with the best range scores in terms of best weapon delivery by any aircraft and 8 aircrafts also had higher sortie and availability rate than other participating aircraft.

For former Mig-21Bis pilots coming in as Squadron pilots of LCA-Tejas Mk1 is like graduating from Premier Padmini to a Mercedes. the feeling is mutual and they are simply awed at easy of the level of flying and of the responsive engine having their back all the time. For Su-30 Pilots, it’s like graduating from a Hummer to a peppy little sports car which is equally fun. Post-retirement of the Mig-27s from the IAF fleet, the next batch of pilots will be from Mig-27 flying background and they will likely be floored and impressed by the Air to Ground performance of the Mk1.


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