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LCA Tejas matching raw power with the Big Boys of the Indian Air Force

The Indian Air Force used the recently-concluded Gagan Shakti 2018 exercises to test its preparation and capabilities with scenarios of nuclear and chemical warfare.

The 13-day Gagan Shakti 2018 exercises saw extensive testing of the newly-inducted homemade HAL Tejas supersonic fighter jet. Checking the combat capability of the LCA Tejas and its performance was a key area of focus of the exercises.

8 LCA Tejas were deployed during the exercise and two of them had reported minor technical issues, which resulted in 6 LCA Tejas flying six sorties daily like any other platforms including the state-of-the-art Su-30 MKI, Mirage 2000 and MiG-29 jets. The LCA had no option but to undergo the rigors of real War Time scenarios. It not only performed well and matched other fighter jets but exceeded expectation of pushing the Made in India machine to its limits.

Tejas was also used for night operations during Gaganshakti 2018.

The exercises also helped hone the integration of the nuclear-capable Supersonic BrahMos and Anti-Ship Harpoon Missile platforms into their intended strike roles.

During the exercise, the sources said over 11,000 sorties were flown which included nearly 9,000 sorties by fighter aircraft. The exercise covered all terrains including desert, high altitude areas like Ladakh and maritime sphere.

The Su-30 MKI's have the capability to look up to 300 km into enemy territory and can provide electronic intelligence to the IAF. It thus acts as a Mini AWACS that can communicate and guide other fighter jets to conduct combat or interception missions. A combination of a heavy fighter like the Su-30 MKI and an ultra light weight jet like the LCA in large numbers can surely turn the tide in a two-front war.

Advanced sophisticated equipment's from western nations and Israel has turned the Su-30 MKI into the most capable and advanced Flanker in the world which being flown by IAF.

The IAF now plans to acquire 83 LCA MK-1 variants and around 200 LCA advance MK-2 variants in the near future. Production of the LCA is currently being scaled up by HAL to roll out 16 fighter jets per annum. The ninth IAF Tejas LCA completed its maiden flight in March. On July 1, 2016, the LCA Tejas was inducted into the 'Flying Daggers' 45 Squadron of the IAF and has been placed to replace the MiG-21 aircraft.

The LCA Tejas has surely earned a place to share hangar space with the Big Boys at strategic forward airbases to defend our country.

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Article written by Darshil R Patel exclusively for
Bsc. in CASFX (U.K.)
Location : Mumbai
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