INDIA. Mumbai: As part of its self-reliance mission, India has decided to procure 73 Light Combat Aircrafts (LAC) Tejas Mk-1 A fighter aircrafts and 10 LCA Tejas Mk-1 Trainer aircrafts for Rs. 45,696 crores for Indian Air Force(IAF), from the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, located in Nashik in Maharashtra.
The decision was taken in a cabinet meeting held under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Wednesday, January 13. The meeting also approved an expenditure worth Rs.1,202 Crore for the required Design and Development of Infrastructure.
Light Combat Aircraft Mk-1A variant is an indigenously designed, developed, and manufactured state-of-the-art modern 4+ generation fighter aircraft. This aircraft is equipped with critical operational capabilities of Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) Radar, Beyond Visual Range (BVR) Missile, Electronic Warfare (EW) Suite and Air to Air Refuelling (AAR) would be a potent platform to meet the operational requirements of Indian Air Force, IAF. It is the first “Buy (Indian-Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured)” category procurement of combat aircraft with an indigenous content of 50% which will progressively reach 60% by the end of the program.
The Cabinet also approved infrastructure development by IAF under the project to enable them to handle repairs or servicing at their base depot so that the turnaround time would get reduced for mission-critical systems and would lead to the increased availability of aircraft for operational exploitation. This would enable IAF to sustain the fleet more efficiently and effectively due to the availability of repair infrastructure at respective bases.
Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan
Under the “Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan”, India is emphasizing an indigenous design to develop and manufacture advanced cutting edge technologies and systems in the Defence Sector. The manufacturing of Light Combat Aircrafts by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, HAL will give a further push to the Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative and boost indigenization of defence production and the defence industry in the country. About 500 Indian companies including MSMEs in the design and manufacturing sectors will be working with HAL in this procurement. The program would act as a catalyst for transforming the Indian aerospace manufacturing ecosystem into a vibrant Atmanirbhar-self-sustaining ecosystem.
The HAL Tejas is an Indian single-engine, fourth-generation, multirole light fighter designed by the Aeronautical Development Agency(ADA) in collaboration with Aircraft Research and Design Centre (ARDC) of HAL for the IAF and Indian Navy. It came from the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) program, which began in the 1980s to replace India’s aging MiG-21 fighters. In 2003, the LCA was officially named “Tejas”. At present 23 Tejas Mk-1, fighter aircrafts are in service. Besides, there are 308 Trainer aircrafts of different variants, including 78 HAL Kiran.
“The LCA Tejas is going to be the backbone of the IAF fighter fleet in the years to come. LCA-Tejas incorporates a large number of new technologies, many of which were never attempted in India,” Defence Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted, adding that the deal was a “game-changer for self-reliance in the Indian defence manufacturing (sector)”.
The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) described the government’s decision as an important stepping stone for Indian defence scientists and the country’s aerospace industry.