Tejas to replace MiG-21: Air Chief

Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne said that light combat aircraft `Tejas` will replace the iconic MiG-21.

Zee Media Bureau

Shillong: Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne on Thursday said that light combat aircraft `Tejas` will replace the iconic MiG-21.

The Tejas is India`s first indigenously-designed and developed Light Combat Aircraft (LCA).

"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 AK 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.

Tejas has been developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation with Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), Bangalore, as the lead laboratory and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited as the production partner.

The MiG-21 FL -- a variant in the MiG-21 series of fighter aircraft -- that heralded the dawn of the supersonic jet era for the Indian Air Force half a century ago, on Wednesday passed into military aviation history at an emotional fly past and parade at an air base in West Bengal.
Two pairs of MiG-21 FLs took off with a deafening roar from the runway of the Kalaikunda air base at 9.45 am for one last time on Wednesday, ending a 50-year-long association with the IAF.

The jet -- that has been flown by nearly three out of every four fighter pilots of the IAF since its induction in 1963 and dealt telling blows to the Pakistan Air Force during the 1971 war -- made its final pass in a four-aircraft box formation over the tarmac area.

It was a nostalgic moment for Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne and many other weather-beaten IAF veterans who had flown the jet and experienced the distinct "kick" of its reheat, regarded by aviation experts as quite unlike any other fighter jet`s "reheat" experience.

(With Agency inputs)