The indigenously developed light combat aircraft ''Tejas'' would officially replace the MiG-21 FL fighter jet, Chief of Air Staff of the Indian Air Force, Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne said today.
“One major phase has passed over and now we look toward the new induction into the force. The LCA will replace the MiG-21,” Browne told reporters at the headquarter of Eastern Air Command here.
“We will get 40 aircraft and that will be the Mark-I type. Tejas will be battle ready by end of 2014,” he said.
Defence Minister A K Antony would officially hand over initiation of acceptance of the Tejas into the force at its birthplace in Bengaluru on December 20, the IAF Chief said.
Browne, accompanied by his wife Kiran, was here on a two-day farewell visit and also attended a Commanders'' Conference of the Eastern Air Command.
According to Browne, works are on for developing Mark-II type ''Tejas'' with improvement in radar system and other add-ons and it will be inducted into the force at a later stage.
Asked on air defence scenario in the Northeast region, Browne said, “North East area is important to us. We have plans for induction of radars for the hilly terrain. We have a series of systems that ensure that the air defence is impregnable.” He said one squadron of Sukhoi would be based in Tezpur by next year, adding that the latest squadron was being formed at Sirsa in Punjab.
On the MiG-21 FL which was phased out after 50-years of service, at a function at Kalaikunda Air base in West Bengal yesterday, Browne said, “It''s been a memorable moment for the Air Force and also a watershed moment as the aircraft which trained all the fighter pilots including myself and generations of pilots.” “It has done its job. It has done well,” he added.