The Air Force wanted the government to clear an additional 44 Rafale medium multi role aircraft on top of the 36 that PM Modi announced during a visit to Paris this year that are to be bought off-the-shelf to meet its urgent requirements.
But a Defence Ministry official said that Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had told the Air Force that there weren't enough funds to expand the Rafale acquisition and that it must induct an improved version of the indigenous Tejas-Mark 1A.
"The IAF (air force) needs to have a minimum number of aircraft at all times. The LCA is our best option at this stage, given our resource constraints," the defence official said. "The Rafale is our most expensive acquisition. The LCA is our cheapest in the combat category,” he stated.
With the drawdown of Soviet-era MiG 21 planes under way, the Air Force would be down to 25 squadrons by 2022 at the current pace of acquisitions, it told the committee. Cleared by the government in 1983, the LCA designed by the government's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) was meant to be the backbone of the air force due for induction in 1994.

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