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The Indian Air Force (IAF) is gearing up for a major boost in its domestic fighter jet capabilities, planning to acquire an additional 97 Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas Mk1A aircraft on top of the 83 already ordered in 2021. This ambitious acquisition plan signifies a strong commitment to indigenous fighter development and promises to significantly shape the IAF’s future fleet composition.

The initial batch of 83 Tejas Mk1A jets, with deliveries starting in February 2024, will primarily replace ageing MiG-21 squadrons scheduled for retirement by 2025. This phased acquisition allows for a smooth transition and ensures no gaps in aerial defence capabilities.

The additional 97 Tejas Mk1A jets, slated for induction from 2028 onwards, will take on a broader role, gradually replacing the IAF’s Jaguar Darin-I/II squadrons. These older Jaguar variants will be the first to retire, paving the way for the Tejas to progressively enter their place. This process is expected to culminate in the complete phasing out of the Jaguar Darin-III fleet by 2035.

While the Tejas Mk1A plays a crucial role in the present, the future lies with the more advanced Tejas MkII. This upgraded version, planned to enter production after 2032, will eventually replace the MiG-29UPG and, further down the line, even the Mirage-2000 squadrons beyond 2035.

With the Tejas Mk1A filling immediate gaps and the Tejas MkII on the horizon, the IAF is on track to modernize its fleet with indigenous technology. This not only strengthens India’s air defence capabilities but also boosts the nation’s strategic autonomy. The journey of the Tejas is far from over, but its success so far is a testament to India’s growing prowess in the world of aerospace technology.

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