New Delhi: In a major boost to air power amid tension along the Sino-Indian border along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh, the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 13 approved procurement of 73 LCA Tejas Mk-1A fighter aircraft and 10 LCA Tejas Mk-1 trainer aircraft at a cost of Rs 45,696 crore along with design and development of infrastructure sanctions worth Rs 1,202 crore.
“The CCS chaired by PM today approved the largest indigenous defence procurement deal worth about Rs 48,000 crores to strengthen Indian Air Force’s fleet of homegrown fighter jet ‘LCA-Tejas.’ This deal will be a game changer for self reliance in the Indian defence manufacturing,” Defence Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted on January 13 evening.
This comes even as the country is getting the Rafale Medium Range Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) from France with the IAF expected to get 126.
The Defence Minister said Tejas is going to be the backbone of the fighter fleet of the Indian Air Force in years to come.
Around three years ago, the IAF had issued an initial tender for procurement of 83 Tejas aircraft, a four-and-half generation combat jet.
“LCA-Tejas incorporates a large number of new technologies many of which were never attempted in India. The indigenous content of LCA-Tejas is 50 per cent in Mk-1A variant which will be enhanced to 60 per cent,” Singh said.
The Defence Minister said that aircraft maker Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) has already set up second-line manufacturing facilities at its Nasik and Bengaluru divisions.
“Equipped with the augmented infrastructure the HAL will steer LCA Mk-1A production for timely deliveries to the IAF,” he said.
Singh said the Tejas programme would act as a catalyst for transforming the Indian aerospace manufacturing ecosystem into a vibrant, self-sustaining one.
“I thank Prime Minister Shri @narendramodi for this historic decision taken by the CCS today,” the Defence Minister said.
Light Combat Aircraft Mk-1A variant is an indigenously designed, developed and manufactured Fourth+ (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.
It is the first “Buy (Indian-Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured)” category procurement of combat aircraft with an indigenous content of 50 per cent which will progressively reach 60 per cent by the end of the programme, Ministry of Defence said in a statement.
The Cabinet has also approved infrastructure development by IAF under the project to enable them handle repairs or servicing at their base depot so that the turnaround time would get reduced for mission critical systems and would lead to increased availability of aircraft for operational exploitation.
This would enable IAF to sustain the fleet more efficiently and effectively due to availability of repair infrastructure at respective bases.
Under the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan, India is continuously growing in its power to indigenously design, develop and manufacture advanced cutting edge technologies and systems in the Defence Sector, the Ministry of Defence said in a statement.
The manufacturing of Light Combat Aircraft by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will give a further push to Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative and boost indigenisation 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 programme would act as a catalyst for transforming the Indian aerospace manufacturing ecosystem into a vibrant Atmanirbhar-self-sustaining ecosystem, the statement added.