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First squadron of Tejas to join Air Force today

Indian Air Force (IAF) will get a new squardon No.45 ‘Flying Daggers’ that will fly the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA)— Tejas, with the city being the initial base for operations.

First squadron of Tejas to join Air Force today
Photo for representative purpose only


The squadron will consist of two Tejas fighter jets and a trainer variant that would be commissioned by Air Marshal Jasbir Walia, Air Officer Commanding-in Chief of Southern Air Command. It had been quite a long wait for IAF to get an alternative combat aircraft that was to replace the ageing MiG 21 series. 

Bengaluru would be the initial base for Flying Daggers which would later shift to Sulur, near Coimbatore, after a couple of years. The ‘Flying Daggers’ recorded the IAF’s last air-to-air kill. In 1999, a MiG 21 aircraft of the squadron shot down a France-made Atlantique that the Pakistan Air Force was flying over the Rann of Kutch. The squadron was “number plated” —Air Force jargon for de-commissioning — in 2002 because the MiG 21 aircraft it was flying had outlived its time. The IAF has at least 10 such “number plated” fighter aircraft squadrons and has an authorised strength of 42 fighter squadrons. 

It is light at the end of the tunnel for the much delayed Light Combat Aircraft whose project clearance was made by the Union government way back in 1973.  Defence Aviation Major Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) which has commenced the initial serial production of Tejas would supply six aircraft to IAF this year and eight next year. 

Subsequent two years would see delivery of another 16 aircraft, according to sources in HAL. The first Commanding Officer of Flying Daggers would be Group Captain Madhav Rangachari, who flew the LCA along with the Air Chief. 

Though Tejas was being inducted, the aircraft is not fully equipped to meet the requirement of IAF, the sources indicated. Last January, the government ordered the IAF to induct the Tejas, although it had pointed out that the aircraft fell short of the requirements the force had projected. 

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