NEW DELHI: The indigenously developed light combat aircraft Tejas has failed to hit the target during a firepower demonstration witnessed by the President, Prime Minister and other top dignitaries.
A top-ranking officer of the IAF on Monday admitted that the laser-guided bomb fired by the Tejas had missed the target during the exercise Iron Fist 2016 in Pokhran last week. However, the officer refused to call it a “failure” as “it happens during exercises”. The Tejas, even after four decades of the project’s inception, has not been formally inducted into the air force.
On Friday, in an impressive show of firepower, the IAF made a dazzling display of its military prowess and also claimed that the Tejas had hit the target. A Mirage assault aircraft also could not fire at the target during the triennial exercise due to bad weather while laser-guided bombs fired from the Jaguar and the Su-30 hit their targets.
“The LGB fired from the LCA (Tejas) missed the target and we are looking at it why it occurred. There was a malfunction of the bomb,” a senior air force official said, adding, there was “no fault” on the part of pilot or with the aircraft itself. The official declined to call it a “failure”. The accuracy of the weapons in hitting a target varies, and the overall accuracy rate of the weapon is generally in the 90-93 per cent range, he said. “It had gone very close to the target,” he added.
The IAF demonstrated its might using a series of assault platforms, including the indigenously built surface-to-air missile Akash, which was fired for the first time in an exercise. A varied range of fighter and transporter jets and helicopters also featured in the exercise.
The event also saw the Tejas and light combat helicopter firing missile 73E. It could not be seen with the naked eye whether the missile fired by the Tejas had hit the target.
“The weather was not conducive and then seconds before the Mirage missile could be fired, the pilot did not see the target. We did not want to take any chance as the VVIPs were there, so we told the pilot not to fire,” the official said.
The Narendra Modi government will not be scared of making “fast-track” purchases even during peace time, said Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar.
Though he did not mention Kargil, when fast-track purchases during the conflict led to audits and legal objections, the Defence Minister said all the purchases would happen with “caution”. After a delay of several months, the new Defence Procurement Procedure, focusing on India-made products and the fast-tracked acquisition process, was cleared on Monday.
The Defence Minister said the new blacklisting policy would be issued separately next month, there would be no relaxation for those who have already been blacklisted and that “bribe givers” would be punished. However, he said that the firms currently on the blacklist would be allowed to appeal before a vigilance committee of the ministry under the new policy.