Modern combat jets by 2020: Antony

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

NEW DELHI - Modern combat jets, six of which are in contention for an Indian Air Force order for 126 planes, will be inducted by 2020, even as the Soviet-era MiG-21 fleet which is the mainstay of the force will be phased out by 2017, parliament was informed Wednesday.

“Among the proposals (for the modernisation of the IAF, 126 MMRCA (medium multi-role combat aircraft) will be inducted by 2020,” Defence Minister A. K. Antony said while answering a supplementary in the Rajya Sabha.

“By 2017, the MiG-21 will be replaced,” he said, adding: “We are also inducting the (indigenous) LCA (light combat aircrafts) the IOC (initial operational clearance) for which has been successfully obtained (from the IAF).

The minister said that due to “historical reasons”, the IAF was hitherto not able to acquire modern aircraft but this situation was now being reversed.

He also rejected suggestions that poor quality of parts were being supplied for the IAF’s fleet of MiG-21, 27 and 29 jets after the disintegration of the Soviet Union.

After disintegration of Soviet Union some factories had gone to countries other that Russia. There was no complaint of quality though there were complaints of time schedules (not being met), Antony added.

The MMRCA contract is worth $10.4 billion. The US F-16 and F-18, the European Eurofighter Typhoon, the French Rafale, the Swedish Gripen and the Russian Mig-35 are in contention for the order, which might go up to 200 planes.

A decision on awarding the tender is likely later this year.

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