Abu Dhabi. Indian Air Force is fielding five HAL-made Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas to take part in the multilateral Desert Flag VIII exercise being held Feb 27 to Mar 17.
An IAF contingent comprising of 110 Air Warriors arrived at the Al Dahfra air base in the UAE to participate in the exercise, in which five LCA Tejas and two C-17 Globemaster III aircraft would take part, the IAF said Saturday.
While the Tejas has taken part in the Dubai Airshow previously, this is the first time that the aircraft will be in the Gulf skies in a near realistic but simulated combat exercise with air forces from the host UAE, US, Kuwait, Australia, France, UK, Bahrain, Morocco, Spain and South Korea. Other aircraft likely to take part are F 35, F 16, Rafale, Mirage 2005 and Eurofighter, adding to the complexity of the exercise but imparting valuable lessons to the participants in network centric warfare (NCW) environment.
IAF’s Su 30 MKIs have taken part in Desert Flag VI earlier in the annual exercise series but this time, significantly, IAF is fielding the Tejas, whose variants are set to replace the Soviet era Mig 21s, inducted first in the late 1960s. Variants of the 4th Gen Tejas, including Tejas Mk II, will eventually form nearly half the strength of IAF’s 30 to 40 Squadrons.
Powered by US GE 404 engine, Tejas costs much less than the most competing fighter jets in the category, and the Indian Ministry of Defence has an ambitious target to export them to friendly nations.
The aircraft (Tejas) had earlier participated in various air shows at Singapore, Malaysia, Bahrain and Dubai.