Guwahati: Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa on Thursday said the Indian Air Force will have the first Rafale jets by 2019, and that the process is on to induct a number of Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) into the force.
On the sidelines of a programme where President Ram Nath Kovind presented Standard to 118 Helicopter Unit and Colour to Air Defence College at Air Force Station, Guwahati, the IAF chief said: "There is no delay in the Rafale programme. Process is on to induct 231 Light Combat Aircraft (LCA). We are supposed to induct a number of fighters."
He said the government has floated a request for information (RFI) for 114 fighter aircraft. "There was a proposal to induct the LCA in big numbers, and with this the total number of LCA squadrons will go up to 12," he said.
"LCA Mark-1 in IOC configuration of one squadron (20 aircraft), LCA Mark-1 in FOC configuration of one squadron, LCA Mark-1A four squadrons (83 aircraft), LCA Mark-2 six squadrons (108 aircraft). So a total of 12 squadrons and 231 aircraft -- this will be the biggest induction of the indigenous aircraft ever in the country," he said.
Replying to queries on the Advanced Landing Ground (ALGs) in the North-East, Dhanowa said that except Vijaynagar, about seven ALGs have already been built and refurbished. "Flight service have already been started to Pasighat ALG. It is now for the operators to start operation on a commercial basis," he said, adding there is no obstruction from the IAF.