The Indian Air Force (IAF) has undertaken upgradation of its fighter aircraft to enhance their combat potential and to ensure their operational relevance, said Defence Minister A.K. Antony in the Lok Sabha on Monday.
In a release by the ministry, Antony said that contract to upgrade MiG-29 was signed with RAC 'MiG' at a cost of US $964 Million and the upgrade is planned to be completed by 2016.
"IAF has undertaken upgradation of MiG-21 and MiG-27 aircraft. Contracts have also been signed to upgrade the MiG-29, Mirage-2000 and Jaguar aircraft," said the Minister in a written reply to MPs Ramesh Bais and PC Mohan.
Contract for Mirage-2000 has been signed with M/s Thales and M/s Dassault Aviation, France at a cost of 1470 Million Euros and with M/s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) at a cost of Rs.2020 crores. All the aircraft are scheduled to be upgraded by mid-2012, he added.
He also said that the contract for upgradation of Jaguar Aircraft has been signed with M/s HAL at a cost of Rs.3113.02 crores. The aircrafts are planned to be upgraded by December 2017.
Speaking about the shortage of Indian Air Force's (IAF) pilot, the minister said that the current strength of pilots in Air Force is sufficient to meet the current operational requirements of the IAF.
As per the data released by the ministry, the present strength of pilots as on 1st April, 2012 was 3406 as against the sanctioned strength of 3783.
"Training infrastructure/facilities are available at Hyderabad and Yelahanka, for training of pilots. Presently, 180-200 pilots are commissioned every year in the Indian Air Force," Antony said.
Regarding the improvement in the job profile of the pilots and improvement of training infrastructure, the ministers said that the Short Service Commission for flying branch has been modified to make men eligible for induction in this branch. The implementation of the recommendations of the Vlth Central Pay Commission shall also go a long way in attracting youth.
Training infrastructure has been augmented through induction of simulators and advanced jet trainers. Since July 2011, entire stage-Ill fighter pilots training has commenced on the advanced jet trainers, he added.