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The Indian Air Force (IAF) is undergoing a significant modernization effort, with plans to simplify its fighter jet fleet in the coming decades. Currently, the IAF operates a diverse range of aircraft, including MiG-21s, Mirage-2000s, Jaguars, MiG-29s, Rafales, and Su-30MKIs. This variety presents logistical and training challenges.

The IAF aims to streamline its fleet to just five fighter jet types within the next 20 years. This will involve the gradual phasing out of older jets like the MiG-21, Mirage-2000, Jaguar, and MiG-29.

The indigenously developed Tejas MkII and Tejas Mk1A are poised to become the backbone of the future IAF. These aircraft are expected to constitute roughly 50% of the fighter jet fleet. This not only simplifies logistics and training but also represents a major step towards self-reliance in fighter jet production.

Adding to the domestic fighter jet dominance will be the introduction of the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA). This 5th generation fighter jet is currently under development and is projected to be operational by 2040. The AMCA’s inclusion will push the percentage of Indian-made fighter jets in the IAF to nearly 60%.

While the Tejas and AMCA take centre stage, the IAF will continue to rely on its proven workhorses, the Rafale and Su-30MKI. These two jets are expected to remain operational until at least 2070 when they will be replaced by the next generation of Indian-made fighter jets.

The IAF’s long-term goal extends beyond 2040. By 2070-80, the force aims to achieve a 100% indigenous fighter jet fleet. This ambitious target will likely involve the development of a 6th-generation Indian fighter jet to succeed the Rafale and Su-30MKI. With the Tejas Mk1A, MkII and AMCA at the forefront, the IAF is poised to become a formidable air force in the decades to come.

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