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IAF for more combat aircraft, AWAC and refuellers

Written by: Staff

Thiruvananthapuram, Apr 13 (UNI) The Indian Air Force is looking for more top of the line fighters, Airborne Warning and Control Aircraft (AWAC) and Mid-Air refuellers, Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi said here today.

'The process is on for inducting 126 combat aircraft into the fleet to strengthen the present fleet,' he told reporters after attending the Southern Air Command Station Commander's annual meet.

Stating that 66 Hawks would be inducted into the fleet next year, he said 'these had been contracted and 20 would be bought from the UK and the rest to be built by the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.' Of the 80 Medium Lift helicopters, the Air Chief said some would be used for relief purposes.

The IAF now had six refuelling aircraft and this would be doubled, he said, adding, three more Advanced Air Warning and Control System (AWACS) would be acquired by the end of the year, which would extend the reach of the Air Force.

On future plans for induction of new aircraft, he said talks were on to replace the aging AN-32 transport fleet with the Multi-role Transport Aircraft (MTA). Talks were going on with a Russian company for its design and manufacture and there were plans to acquire 45 of them in the near future, he said.

'The present day transport aircraft have less capacity. The MTA will have 15 to 20 tonne capacity.' Another squadron would be added to the Light Combat Aircraft fleet. The Intermediate Jet Trainer was under development.

When asked about frequent accidents of MIG aircraft, the Air Chief said the frequency of accidents had been decreasing consistently. Its performance was quite good and about 40 per cent aircraft in the force was MIGs, he added. 'Compared to earlier days the graph of accidents has come down,' he said.


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