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  5. Tejas as good as Rafale, first squadron to fly before Diwali: Manohar Parrikar

Tejas as good as Rafale, first squadron to fly before Diwali: Manohar Parrikar

New Delhi: The first squadron of Tejas fighter jets will be flying before Diwali, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said, adding that the indigenous light combat aircraft (LCA) is as good as Rafale, even though its load carrying capacity and range is

India TV Politics Desk India TV Politics Desk Updated on: May 21, 2016 8:14 IST
Manohar Parrikar
Manohar Parrikar

New Delhi: The first squadron of Tejas fighter jets will be flying before Diwali, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said, adding that the indigenous light combat aircraft (LCA) is as good as Rafale, even though its load carrying capacity and range is lesser.

He also said that by the year-end, the government will decide on which multi-role fighter jets will be manufactured in the country.

Stressing that the Indian Air Force can get two Tejas fighters at the price of one Rafale jet, he said, "In the air force, a new fighter has not been inducted since 1994. Tejas was stuck for 32 years. Now, two planes have been supplied and a few more will be supplied in a couple of months," Parrikar said.

"The first squadron of Tejas will be ready by September-October and it will be flying before Diwali. Our Tejas has the same qualities as Rafale. Although Tejas is in lightweight category, with its range also half compared with Rafale, but in terms of avionics, electronics and firepower it is no less than Rafale," he said.

"One Rafale fighter is worth approximately Rs 700 crore to Rs 750 crore while an Su-30 costs about Rs 475 crore. Compared to these planes, India's Tejas is in the range of Rs 200 crore to Rs 250 crore only. We can get two Tejas at the price of one Rafale," he added.

India Tv - Tejas

Image Source : PTITejas

Rafale deal to take ‘few more weeks’

Parrikar said concluding the deal to buy Rafale fighters from Dassault Aviation of France will take a ‘few more weeks’ as the negotiations on price was important. "You will have to bring down the cost. If you throw away the price they demand, our coffers will soon be empty," he said.

On the dip in the numbers of IAF squadrons, the defence minister said the gap will be bridged soon. "The sanctioned strength of fighter squadrons is 42, but 100 percent is never reached. We have 34 squadrons at present. In the next three to four years, four to five squadrons of Tejas will be added; a few more squadrons of Sukhoi will also come. By then two squadrons of Rafale jets will also come," Parrikar said.

India to select fighter jet under 'Make in India' by March

When asked about the plans to manufacture the multi-role fighter jets in the country, he said that government will zero in by the end of current fiscal a fighter jet it wants to build under 'Make in India' initiative.

"By the end of this year, a decision will be taken on which fighter aircraft will be made in India. We have not decided yet whether we will make the F-18, Eurofighter, Rafale or Griffin,” Parrikar said.

The Defence Minister said, his ministry removed obstacles in the way of procurement of defence equipment through a transparent mechanism. He said, the impact of new Defence Procurement Policy will be visible only after a year as defence procurement is a very complex and lengthy process.

“In the next seven to eight years, the ratio of imports in defence equipments may come down to 30 to 35 per cent, making India ‘almost self-reliant’, Parrikar said.

The minister said the ratio of import in military hardware has come down from 70 per cent to 63 per cent at present. "If every year the decrease is five to ten per cent, in the next five years, it can come under 40 per cent. When it comes under 30 per cent, we will be more or less self-dependent. Some items are such that manufacturing them in the country is not profitable. It is better to buy (from abroad) because the cost and numbers do not justify domestic production," he said.

Parrikar further said that the strength of combatized armed forces will not be cut down rather it will be strengthened. He said that there is a scope of rationalization of strength of non-combat employees, adding that a committee has been set up in this regard which will submit its report in three months.

No adverse impact on Defence budget due to OROP

He said, the NDA government has taken several measures to further strengthen the security of the country during last two years of its rule. He said the government fulfilled the long pending demand of defence forces for One Rank One Pension scheme.

“This step will bolster the confidence and morale of security forces and they will be able to thwart the evil designs of enemy. OROP will not have any adverse impact on the Defence budget,” he said.

Parrikar said that the government has given freedom to armed forces to deal with insurgents in the insurgency-prone areas and with the enemy at the borders.

Six new submarines are under construction at Mazagaon Docks, he informed.

The Defence Minister admitted that corruption in defence procurement during the previous regime had affected defence preparedness and after Bofors scam, procurement of guns had come to a standstill.

“The trial of Dhanush gun manufactured by ordnance factory in the country is underway and production of self-propelled guns in the private sector with 50 percent indigenous content has been approved and contracts will be given in next 2-3 months,” he said.

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