NEW DELHI: At a time when Pakistan has already clinched the first export order for its JF-17 'Thunder' fighter built with China's help, India's home-grown light combat aircraft Tejas will take yet another year to become fully combat-ready.
What is even more worrying is that the critically-required Tejas Mark-II, with a more powerful engine, is likely to need a strong infusion of foreign collaboration if the first prototype has to take to the skies by 2018-19 as per already much-revised deadlines. "Tejas Mark-II is still on the drawing board, with only the preliminary design review being completed till now. The critical design review is far off," said a source.
This has triggered a major worry since IAF is down to just 35 fighter squadrons when at least 44 are needed to handle a "collusive threat" from Pakistan and China. Moreover, only half of the fighters in the 35 squadrons are operationally available at any given time due to obsolescence, poor serviceability and maintenance.
Even if the ongoing commercial negotiation to directly acquire 36 expensive twin-engine Rafale fighters - IAF is pushing for double that number -- is sealed in a month, it will take well over two years for the deliveries of the French jets to begin.
With older MiG-21s and MiG-27s being progressively retired, the single-engine Tejas is needed fast to make the fall in numbers. But it will get the final operational clearance (FOC) only by mid-2016 now, missing the revised December 2015 deadline set for it. The FOC basically implies the jet is now capable of firing guns, rockets, laser-guided bombs and BVR (beyond visual range) missiles as well as undergo mid-air refuelling.
But the lightweight Tejas cannot fulfil the role of a medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) like Rafale or a "heavyweight" Sukhoi-30MKI. With a reach of just about 400-km, Tejas has just one-third the range and weapon-load capacity of a Rafale or a Sukhoi. So, Tejas cannot be used for deep bombing strikes, for example targets in China.
The actual utility of Tejas' excruciatingly slow progress will be if it actually leads to a faster development of the advanced medium combat aircraft (AMCA), the proposed project for an indigenous fifth-generation fighter aircraft.
IAF, DRDO and Aeronautical Development Agency are now getting set to seek the Cabinet Committee on Security's approval for the initial design and development phase for AMCA. The plan is to conduct the first flight of the twin-engine AMCA, with advanced stealth, super-cruise capability, super-maneuverability and multi-sensor integration, by 2023-2024, as was earlier reported by TOI.
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Final operational clearance for Tejas again delayed till next year - The Times of India
Now this is getting pathetically hilarious. For love of GOD Indians accept you failed here and move on.
@nair @Horus @Areesh @AUz @guru @GURU DUTT @Skull and Bones @levina @balixd @salarsikander