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The debate surrounding the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas and its ability to compete with the Pakistani Air Force’s (PAF) fighter jets has been a topic of much discussion. This article aims to shed light on the Tejas’ capabilities and their role in the Indian Air Force (IAF).

While the PAF possesses a mix of F-16 variants, including older models, the core argument focuses on the Tejas Mk1/A’s ability to engage modern threats. It’s important to recognize that the Tejas Mk1 isn’t pitted solely against outdated F-16s. The IAF rightfully expects its aircraft to be prepared for a wider range of potential adversaries, including the JF-17, J-10CE, and even newer F-16 variants.

The narrative that the Tejas isn’t designed for specific opponents undermines its potential. In real-world scenarios, the IAF prioritizes readiness over excuses. The Tejas Mk1/A, armed with advanced avionics, the Astra Mk1 missile, and a capable radar present a formidable challenge. Pilot skill, tactics, and situational awareness – factors often neglected in simplistic comparisons – play a crucial role in air combat.

Air superiority isn’t solely determined by raw specifications. The IAF’s Dissimilar Air Combat Training (DACT) program ensures pilots are prepared to face a variety of potential adversaries, including F-16s encountered during international exercises. Tejas pilots constantly hone their skills against diverse aircraft, maximizing their platform’s capabilities.

Combat situations highlight areas for improvement. During a recent incident, the PAF’s use of electronic warfare (EW) jamming hampered communication – a shortcoming the IAF is actively addressing through upgrades. The Tejas program demonstrates adaptability, with further advancements being incorporated based on operational experience.

The IAF’s success on February 27th exemplifies the importance of comprehensive airpower. While details remain undisclosed, it’s likely a combination of aircraft, including Mirage-2000s, and supporting assets like AWACS/AEW&C played a crucial role. This highlights the importance of integrated air defence, where the Tejas serve as a valuable component.

The Tejas Mk1/A is a capable platform that continues to evolve. Pilot training, evolving tactics, and ongoing upgrades ensure its relevance in the Indian subcontinent’s aerial landscape. The IAF doesn’t rely on excuses; it prepares its pilots and equips them with the best possible tools to fulfil their missions and safeguard India’s airspace.

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