The Cabinet Committee on Security, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday cleared the country’s largest-ever indigenous defence deal worth $6.5 billion for the purchase of 83 LCA MK1A Tejas light combat aircraft. The aircraft will be manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.
Defence minister Rajnath Singh tweeted that the deal is set to be a game-changer for self-reliance in defence manufacturing in India. Tejas is going to be backbone of the fighter fleet of the Indian Air Force in the future, he said.
The ‘Tejas’ Mk 1A Light Combat Aircraft, is a versatile lightweight fighter, and an outstanding replacement for the venerable MiG-21 fighter that the IAF has been flying for over five decades. Tejas is expected to be a capable 4th generation aircraft.
According to a former chief test pilot, “The indigenous content will increase from 50% presently to 60% by the end of delivery schedule. The biggest imported content continues to be the engine (GE 404), the radar (ELTA 2052) and a considerable amount of avionics. This could see an improvement with the success of the UTTAM AESA radar project of DRDO.”
The increasing ability and confidence of the D&D and Flight Test Team at HAL can be borne by the fact that the UAE and Malaysia have expressed interest in the Tejas. Most recently, HAL has responded to the requirements of the US Navy’s jet training programme by launching the ‘Tejas LIFT’ (Lead-In Fighter Trainer) offering the Tejas trainer variant as a contender in December 2020, something that will certainly make HAL a contender.
The fighters will be manufactured by the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and the company is likely to boost its production and deliver all the aircraft by the end of 2026.