The government on Wednesday formally sealed the Rs 48,000 crore deal to procure 83 Tejas light combat aircraft from state-run aerospace behemoth Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. The deal is the biggest ever in the indigenous military aviation sector.
The contract was handed over by Director General (Acquisition), Ministry of Defence, V L Kantha Rao to Chairman and Managing Director of HAL, R Madhavan, at the inaugural ceremony of Aero India-2021, the country's premier defence and aerospace show in Benagaluru in the presence of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
Tejas, manufactured by the HAL, is a single engine and highly agile multi-role supersonic fighter aircraft capable of operating in high-threat air environments. The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month approved the deal for procurement of the 73 Tejas Mk-IA variant and 10 LCA Tejas Mk-I trainer aircraft from the HAL to boost IAF's combat prowess.
"I am very happy that HAL has got orders for development of 83 new indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) – Tejas MK1A from Indian Air Force valued at more than Rs. 48000 Crores, it is probably the biggest 'Make in India' Defence contract till date," Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said after the contract was signed.
The purchase is in addition to an earlier deal to buy 40 of the combat aircraft and the locally-made jets are set to join the Indian Air Force fleet over the course of the next six to seven years.
The Mark A1 version of the jet will have 43 improvements over the initial version, including major improvements to enhance operational capability.
These include easier maintenance, active electronically scanned array radar, electronic warfare suite and beyond-visual range missile capabilities, that will include the Indian made air-to-air missile Aastra Mark1. It will also have the ability to carry missiles for long range.
The Indian Air Force plans to switch to the locally-manufactured Tejas, the LCA Mark 1A, three years after it floated a tender from international producers for 114 aircraft.
The 123 Tejas fighters procured by the IAF will be in three different variants, all powered by a general electric engine. So far 20 have been made in what is called the initial operational clearance version. Another 20 are being made in what is called the final operational clearance version. These 123 jets will be followed by the Mark-II variant which are medium weight fighters.