IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha described the recent Rafale fighter jet deal as “exceptional” and said the Indian Air Force would like to have more of these aircraft.
He further added that the recently signed contract for 36 fighters was better than other such deals and offers that India received.
“Any Air Force will be proud to have aircraft of the Rafale class which is in mid-weight category. In terms of its weapons capability, air-to-air missiles, beyond visual range, air-to-ground, its avionics, instrumentation and warfare suite, it is exceptional and one of the leading aircraft of the current generation,” Raha said.
Asked if 18 more aircraft would be procured, he said, “Well, we would like to have more. But it is a decision that will be taken in the near future.”
On other proposals from Boeing, Saab and Lockheed Martin to manufacture fighter aircraft in India, he said the company which offers the best deal will be selected.
He said Saab’s Gripen is a “good fighter” as compared to others like F-16 of Lockheed Martin but the decision will depend on many factors.
On the 7th Pay Commission issue, he said he hoped the government would resolve the issues that the forces have decided to implement it based on the government’s assurances.
On the induction of light combat aircraft Tejas, he said it would be done in six squadrons, including the upgraded version. He said the next version called Tejas ‘Mark-A’ would come with better radar, weapons, avionics, and its production will start in 2021.
Raha also said IAF would also be upgrading the Sukhoi 30 MKI fighter jets besides the Jaguar.
On the integration of BrahMos missiles with the Sukhoi 30 MKI, Raha said, “We hope to fire a live missile in three months.”
(With Inputs From Agencies)