New Delhi: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar today said Tejas, which was inducted into the IAF after a wait of 33 years, meets the critical lightweight fighter aircraft requirements of the force and will also be available for export to India's friendly nations.
While two Tejas were today handed over to IAF by state-run HAL, Parrikar said that by 2025, 120 Tejas aircraft will be inducted into the Air Force.
"The induction of Tejas is a decisive step towards realising vision of 'Make in India' for the defence sector,” he said.
Describing Tejas as a "beautiful" 4th+ generation aircraft with high manoeuvrability, Parrikar said it has a glass cockpit and state-of-the-art satellite aided Inertial Navigation System, digital computer based attack system, air-to-air missiles, stand-off air to ground weapons, precision guided munitions (PGMs), fly by wire controls and will also have air to air refuelling capability.
"Till date, there have been over 3,000 flights of LCA prototypes without a single accident. By 2025, 120 Tejas aircrafts will be inducted into the Air Force. It meets the critical lightweight fighter aircraft requirements of the force and will also be available for export to India's friendly nations," he said.
Defence sources said that Sri Lanka and Egypt have already evinced interest in the aircraft.
Parrikar said there was "no accountability" in the previous government and hence, there was so much delay in induction of the aircraft.
He recalled how he had undertaken at least 16-18 meetings to ensure that the IAF, HAL and other stakeholders were on one page.
The first squadron of the Tejas has been named 'Flying Daggers'.
The commissioning of the planes comes more than three decades after LCA went into development. The squadron will be based in Bengaluru for the first two years before it is moved to Sulur in Tamil Nadu.
IAF, which plans to induct six aircraft this financial year and about eight in the next, has said Tejas will feature in its combat plan next year and would be deployed in forward bases also. LCA will eventually replace the ageing fleet of MiG-21 planes.