Indian Air Force plans to induct six squadrons of indigenously developed Light Combat Aircraft 'Tejas' by the end of the 13th five-year plan, the Indian Parliament has been informed.
That would mean, IAF will have at least 120 LCAs in its fleet of combat aircraft by the end of 2017. Of these, 40 will be Tejas Mark-I and the rest Mark-II.
"IAF plans to induct six LCA squadrons by the end of the 13th Plan," Defence Minister AK Antony informed Rajya Sabha, the upper house of parliament.
He said Tejas got its initial operational clearance on January 10, 2011, and the LCA development process is progressing towards final operational clearance.
"The Initial Operational Clearance-1 (IOC-1) for the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft has been achieve on January 10, 2011. Presently, LCA development activities leading to final operational clearance are in progress," he added.
"Action for induction of Tejas into IAF has been initiated. IAF has placed orders for 40 aircraft from on Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL)" he added.
HAL will produce only 40 of the Tejas Mark-I aircraft powered from the General Electric F404 engine that provides the plane a thrust of about 80 Kilo Newtons.
"Tejas Mark-II aircraft is under development with an alternate higher powered engine with considerable improvements," Antony said. Tejas Mark-II will be powered by GE F414 engine producing 90 Kilo Newtons. India had in 2011 placed an order for 99 of the F414 engines from General Electric for the LCA programme.
Antony said the final cost of the Tejas programme will be available only after the development phase of Mark II is completed.
"Scope for cost reduction of Tejas Mk-I has been examined and the same is assessed as not feasible in view of limited quantities (to be produced)," he added.
Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) is the nodal organisation for the development of Tejas. India has already sanctioned Rs.11,845.20 crore ($2.3 billion) to ADA for development of Tejas till date. The total expenditure incurred so far on Tejas project is Rs.5,051.46 crore ($1.1 billion).