Sources – sputniknews

The Indian Air Force (IAF) is looking to overhaul its fleet of combat aircraft with a mix of indigenous and foreign-acquired warplanes.

The head of the IAF, Air Chief Marshal V.R. Chaudhari, has pitched for the induction of new fighter jets in India’s sky guarding force amid rapid depletion in its squadron strength.

Reports suggest that the IAF is operating with 31 squadrons at present while a minimum of 42 squadrons are required to “tackle the twin threats of Pakistan and China”.

While India is inducting the homegrown TEJAS fighter jet at a fast pace and is also developing an Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA), the IAF has been urging the Narendra Moi-led government to procure 114 Multi-Role Fighter Aircraft (MRFA) to augment its fleet of warplanes.

“While the IAF fully supports the indigenous fighter development program, the gestation period of this program implies that there would be a void in numbers and technology of fighter aircraft, considering the impending drawdown of legacy fleets. To ensure that the IAF retains its edge, acquisition of MRFA is extremely important,” Chaudhari said in a recent interaction with media persons.

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“To provide credible deterrence, it is imperative to have indigenous fighter aircraft development and production wherewithal. At the same time, we are aware that projects like AMCA take time and resources to fructify. In the interim, given our not-so-friendly neighborhood, it is important that the strength of our combat assets is not depleted further,” he added.

Chaudhari’s remarks come at a time when the IAF is going all out to arrive at a strength of 42 squadrons by 2035. As per the IAF’s modernization plans, it is aiming to have a fleet of a minimum of 450 modern state-of-the-art fighters in the next decade or so.