First Combat Drill With Tejas In 3 Months

India's indigenous Light Combat Aircraft Tejas will be put to play in its first ever combat exercise in February 2013. The IAF's Iron Fist exercise over Rajasthan's Pokhran range will see a pair of Tejas limited series production fighters fly, drop bombs and perhaps fire weapons alongside IAF Su-30s, Mirage-2000s and MiG-21s. The type is scheduled to achieve the second phase of its troubled initial operational clearance (IOC-2) by September 2013.

In separate information made available today by the IAF chief, the air force's four MiG-27 squadrons will be retired by 2016-17, while two MiG-21 Type 96 squadrons currently committed to fast jet training will revert to full operational duties next year as the BAE Hawk fleet fully integrates with the IAF lead-in training syllabus. By 2020, the upgraded MiG-29 Fulcrum will be the only MiG series aircraft left in IAF service (the Indian Navy will operate its MiG-29Ks well beyond 2020).

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