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The prestigious No. 51 ‘Swordarms’ Squadron, based in Srinagar, is set to commence the induction of the indigenous Tejas Mk1A fighter jet. Following the retirement of its MiG-21Bis, which had earned acclaim for shooting down a Pakistani F-16 over the Line of Control, the squadron temporarily ceased flying operations on June 30, 2022.

With the expected delivery of Tejas Mk1A jets starting from February 2024, the Indian Air Force (IAF) plans to raise the first two squadrons, potentially in Rajasthan and Srinagar, which are strategically vital regions for the IAF in the Western and North sectors, respectively.

The IAF anticipates the commencement of Tejas Mk1A deliveries by February 2024. It aims to take delivery of at least six units of the upgraded fighter jet by 2025, which will pave the way for the establishment of the first squadron of Tejas Mk1A jets.

Although it remains unclear which squadron will be raised first, the IAF’s focus is on strengthening its capabilities in critical regions. The induction of the Tejas Mk1A will mark a significant milestone in the IAF’s modernization efforts and enhance its operational readiness.

Presently, two squadrons, namely No. 18 Squadron ‘Flying Bullets’ and No. 45 Squadron ‘Flying Daggers,’ operate the Tejas Mk1 fighter jets. These squadrons are based at the Sulur airbase near Coimbatore. Their primary role is to train pilots for future squadrons and develop operational techniques for the Tejas jets. These squadrons play a crucial role in refining the capabilities and expertise required for the successful operation of the Tejas Mk1A variants.

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