New Delhi: DRDO`s claim about being in a position to export Light Combat Aircraft Tejas has been dismissed as premature and unrealistic by former top IAF officers who want it to focus on getting the indigenous fighter plane inducted into own air force first.
"It is good to have ambitions but there are several miles to go before we can talk or think about exporting LCA.
"It is too early to talk about this as it has to be fist inducted into IAF before we take a decision on selling these planes," former IAF chief Air Chief Marshal S Krishnaswamy said.
He was reacting to DRDO`s claim that it can sell light-weight multirole LCA to friendly foreign countries in future.
Krishnaswamy said DRDO and the country will have to be "realistic" as for exporting the aircraft. The country will have to make huge investments to create a new and big production line for mass production of these aircraft, he said.
The development of the home-grown fighter aircraft, which recently got `Initial Operational Clearance` by IAF, has already taken 30 years at an estimated cost of over Rs 17,000 crore.
However, the induction is still awaited as IAF has not yet given the `Final Operation Clearance`.
Production of the aircraft is estimated to push up the cost further.
Krishnaswamy said when it comes to exporting combat aircraft or helicopters, the seller has to provide long-term fleet support to the customer countries and "DRDO has no exposure to such fleet management practices".
"We had exported some choppers to a country and one of them crashed during the national day parade of that particular nation.
"So, we should first focus on developing the aircraft for our own requirements and then think of other things," he said.
Krishnaswamy said the first indigenously built bomber HF-24 Marut aircraft had to go through several modifications due to problems experienced in it even several years after it was inducted in IAF.