BANGALORE (PTI): Indian Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal P V Naik has said the indigenously manufactured Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) would be an advanced version of the MiG 21 fighters, which have been the mainstay of the force and are on their way to be phased out in near future.
"Considering the technologies involved, it (LCA Mk II) will be a MiG 21 + + aircraft and it will render yeoman service to the IAF," he said when asked about his assessment of the aircraft.
The IAF chief was talking to reporters on the sidelines of a function to grant Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) to the LCA here.
The Russian-origin MiG 21s started being inducted into the IAF in the 1960s and despite their old technology, continue to be in operation to date and are expected to be phased out by the IAF in near future.
The DRDO is developing a more capable version of the LCA called the Mk II, which is expected to be ready by the end of December 2014.
Asked if the present version of the aircraft could be called a fourth generation aircraft, as DRDO was claiming it to be, the IAF chief said with future developments, it could become one but was not so at the moment.
Explaining the parameters on which he called the LCA Mk II as MiG 21 + + aircraft, the Naik said, "This means first in endurance, second in performance, third in load carrying, fourth is the number of weapons it can deliver. Fifth is the weight with which it can navigate with and the vintage of the aircraft or avionics and sixth is radar."
Asked to compare the aircraft with its contemporaries, Naik said it would be just short of Swedish Gripen NG single engine aircraft.
On the role to be played by the LCAs in the IAF, he said an air force requires high, medium and low end aircraft to perform its tasks and the indigenous fighter would be used to fill in the gaps at the "medium and low" level.
IAF has placed orders for 40 LCAs in IOC mode and is expected to procure another 160 LCA Mk II later in the decade.