New Delhi: To address the shortage of fighter aircraft in the Indian Air Force, the government has adopted a two-pronged strategy of midlife upgradation of existing jets and induction of new ones in the fleet, Minister of State for Defence Shripad Naik said on Thursday.
In a written response to a question in the Lok Sabha, Naik said the IAF has already contracted for 40 Light Combat Aircraft Mk1 with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) of which 16 aircraft have been delivered.
"To overcome the shortage of fighter aircrafts in the IAF, a two-pronged approach has been adopted. That is, midlife upgradation of legacy aircraft to retain their operational relevance and induction of new aircraft," Naik said.
The IAF is in the process of acquiring additional 83 LCA Mk1A aircraft for which contract negotiations are in progress.
Delivery of LCA Mk1A aircraft would commence three years from the date of signing of contract, Naik said.
Request For Proposal for 83 LCA Mk1A was issued to HAL in December, 2017.
A Request For Information for procurement of 114 Multi Role Fighter Aircraft (MRFA) was issued in April 2018, the minister added.
The MiG-27 fleet was decommissioned on December 31, 2019 due to obsolescence and completion of Total Technical Life, he added.
Replying to another question on whether the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) has partnered with Indian or foreign companies to develop technology to prevent drone attacks, Naik said the information is "strategic in nature and its disclosure is not in the interest of national security".
In response to a separate query on whether there are any plans to privatise any defence public sector undertaking, Naik said the government has given an in-principle approval for strategic disinvestment of Bharat Earth Movers Ltd (BEML) by reducing its shareholding of 54.03 per cent to 28.03 per cent, he said.