Indian Air Force will raise the first squadron of home-grown Light Combat Aircraft Tejas with the induction of two aircraft into the force here today. State-run HAL will hand over the first two Tejas aircraft to IAF which will make up the 'Flying Daggers' 45, the name of the first squadron of the LCA.
The LCA squadron induction ceremony will be held at the Aircraft System Testing Establishment here in the presence of Air Marshal Jasbir Walia, Air Officer Commanding-in Chief, Southern Air Command, officials said.
The aircraft are likely to perform a sortie during the induction ceremony. The squadron will be based in Bengaluru for the first two years before being moved to Sulur in Tamil Nadu. Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, who on May 17 took his maiden flight in Tejas, had termed the aircraft as "good" for induction.
IAF has said the idea is to have a total of six aircraft this financial year and about eight in the next. Tejas will feature in combat plan of the IAF next year and will be deployed in forward bases also, it has said.
Stating that LCA squadron should be formed by July, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had earlier this month said "next year I think two MiG-21 squadrons are being decommissioned; this will go into initially replacing them."
LCAs are better than the MiGs which are old and parts are difficult to get, he had said. All squadrons of Tejas will be made up of 20 planes in total, including four in reserve. As per the plan, while 20 would be inducted under the "Initial Operational Clearance", another 20 will be inducted later with Beyond Visual Range Missile (BVR) and some other features.
IAF plans to induct over 80 aircraft with better specifications known as Tejas 1A. The upgraded version of Tejas, with Active Electrically Scanned Array Radar, Unified Electronic Warfare Suite, mid-air refuelling capacity and advanced beyond the vision range missiles, will cost between Rs 275 crore and Rs 300 crore. While the idea to have an indigenous fighter aircraft was conceptualised in 1970s, actual work started on the aircraft only in the 1980s and the first flight took place in January 2001.