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Received queries for Tejas: HAL chief

A file photo.

NEW DELHI (PTI): Queries were received about the country's indigenous Light Combat Aircraft Tejas for possible export, during the recently held Bahrain air show, HAL chief T Suvarna Raju said on Thursday but refused to identify the interested countries.

He also asserted that the first upgraded Tejas with better radar, missiles system, mid-air refueling capability, would be handed over to the force by 2018.

"We have got inquiries for LCA already," Raju said as he lauded the aircraft's performance at this month's Bahrain air show.

Asked for the names of countries which have evinced interest, Raju told PTI, "Believe us when I say there are inquiries for LCA."

The aircraft is expected to replace the ageing fleet of MiG-21 fighter planes in the Indian Air Force.

Talking about the LCA programme, he said HAL and others are working on the "requirements" needed to make the aircraft useful to the operator, which in this case will be IAF.

IAF plans to acquire 120 Tejas aircraft, with 100 of them having some major modifications. It wants better radar, new electronic warfare suit, refuelling capacity and beyond the vision range missiles.

"The series production has started. We are increasing the capacity from 8 to 16 per annum. We will be rolling out good numbers.

"The requirements which are are required for this aircraft to be useful to the operator would be complied by HAL," he said.

Raju said that the first aircraft with all required modifications would be handed over to IAF in 2018.

As per the production plan, six aircraft will be made this year (2015-16) and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd will subsequently scale it up to eight and 16 aircraft per year.

It is estimated that 20 aircraft will be built by 2017- 2018 to make the first squadron of the plane.

The LCA programme was initiated in 1983 to replace the ageing MiG-21s planes in IAF's combat fleet but has missed several deadlines due to various reasons.

As India aims to market the Tejas, it will face competition from Pakistan's JF 17, built in collaboration with China. The aircraft has already been placed in the open market and it was speculated that one Asian country had evinced interest in the aircraft.

Sri Lanka had recently denied reports that it had evinced interest in the Pakistani plane.

Meanwhile, talking about the indigenous light attack helicopter, Raju said IAF has selected it weapons and HAL is in the process of integrating it.

"By September, we will prove it. From March, we will be flying with weaponised helicopter," he said.


India  HAL  Tejas  

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