Shillong, Aug 13:
Pinning hope on India’s indigenous Tejas light combat aircraft, the Indian Air Force chief, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, on Thursday was optimistic that the jet, developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) would would meet requirements of the force.
“Obviously, the Tejas is a very good bet because we need to go indigenous. It may not be best in the world but obviously it will meet some of our requirements,” Raha told journalists after reviewing the security scenario in the northeast with commanders from the Eastern Air Command here.
“We want them in large quantities and larger numbers so plan are afoot to improve its quality is likely more and produce them in larger numbers some more to fill the void that the IAF has more or likely to have it in the future as the legacy fleets get decommissioned and therefore, Tejas will be one of our mainstay,” he said.
“Towards that I think Make in India or indigenous production is what the government of the country is taking of so there will be a lot of fast tracking in this directions to have Make in India projects to replace these aircraft will make sense,” he said.
On the Rafale deal, Raha said all plans are in place and a lot of activity is on for new acquisitions to replace the ageing fleet of the Indian Air Force.
“Everybody knows about that there are issues with the legacies of some of the fleet and they need to be replaced. Obviously they cannot carry on for too long. So, all the plans are in place…for new acquisitions to replace the older aircraft,” he said.
Stating that there were various reasons the deal for 126 MMCRA (medium multi-role combat aircraft) could not fructify, Raha said the government had taken the decision to acquire 36 Rafale jets in flyaway condition after commitments were made at the highest level in France and India.
“I am very hopeful that it will be through much faster than the normal process,” he said.
Noting that the Eastern Air Command is a priority area, Raha admitted that in the past few decades, the Indian Air Force had been concentrating more on the western theatre.
“A lot of infrastructure and assets has come up in those areas and we are quite well off in terms of our capability. But the eastern part of the country did not get as much attention it deserved. Therefore, we had some gaps in our capability but all of you know there is a lot of work (to be done) in this regard to bring up our capability,” he said.