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Indian Air Force (IAF) has told the parliamentary standing committee on defence that it will not be able to maintain a squadron strength of 29-30 squadrons in 2030 if the induction of 83 LCA-Tejas Mk1A and 114 jets under MRFA tender doesn’t happen in time.

IAF will start taking deliveries of Tejas Mk1A fighter jets in February 2024 and deliveries will be concluded only by 2028. Request for Proposal (RFP) for MRFA tender for procurement of 114 jets is yet to take off and as per media reports, it will happen later in the year or early next year.

MRFA tender process which has been delayed considerably will not be concluded in the next 3-4 years due to the lengthy process unless Government to Goverment deal is concluded in the next few years even if that happens it will take 4-5 years before Made in India Foreign jet is rolled out of the Indian plant.

IAF is planning to place orders for 50 Tejas Mk1A jets to negate possible delays in procurement of the MRFA and possible delays in the Tejas Mk2 program that is planned to have its first flight only in 2026 and induction process by 2030.

IAF plans to phase out three squadrons of Mig-21Bis by 2025 and has plans to start phasing out the process of the Mig-29 and Jaguar fleet from 2029 onwards with a complete phase-out by 2035. IAF might keep its Mirage-2000 fleet longer but it will be near impossible to stretch over 2035.

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