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The Indian Air Force (IAF) has unveiled an ambitious plan to significantly enhance its indigenous fighter jet fleet over the next two decades. The objective is to reduce reliance on foreign sources and achieve greater self-sufficiency in defense capabilities. By 2040, the IAF aims to operate more than 50 percent of its fighter fleet composed of locally developed fighter jets, with a more ambitious target of 80 percent by 2050. This strategic shift marks a pivotal moment in India’s defense strategy.

As part of this strategic plan, the IAF is working on expanding its order book for the indigenously developed Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas Mk1A fighter jets. The order is set to swell to 223 units by 2032, signaling a robust commitment to the domestic defense industry. Additionally, the IAF has already committed to procuring 120 LCA-AF MkII platforms once they are ready for production, which is expected to commence from 2032 onwards. These steps are crucial in boosting India’s self-reliance in fighter jet production.

In a significant development, the IAF is set to procure 40 Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) MkI fighter jets, powered by older F-414 engines. These AMCA MkI aircraft are slated to enter production by 2032-33. Furthermore, the IAF has plans to induct at least 40 more LCA-AF MkII platforms by early 2040, further strengthening its indigenous fighter jet fleet.

Currently, the IAF boasts a fleet of Sukhoi-30MKI and Rafale aircraft. In addition, the IAF is in the process of selecting the winner of the 114 Multi-Role Fighter Aircraft (MRFA) tender, which will significantly augment its fighter jet capabilities. By 2040, the combined fleet of these aircraft is expected to reach approximately 300 jets.

After 2040, the IAF plans to retire its entire Sukhoi-30MKI fleet and replace it with the AMCA Mk-II. This will see a sharp increase in the number of locally developed fighter jets in the IAF’s fleet.

The IAF’s plan to operate over 50% of its fighter fleet made up of locally developed fighter jets by 2040 is a significant development. It demonstrates the IAF’s commitment to self-reliance and its confidence in the capabilities of the Indian defense industry.

The plan is also expected to have a number of benefits for the Indian economy. It will create jobs in the defense sector and boost the development of new technologies. It will also reduce India’s dependence on other countries for fighter jets, which could lead to savings in foreign exchange.

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