Cabinet Okays Adding Fire Power to IAF

Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, Jan 13: In a bid to further strengthen India’s air defence, the union cabinet at its meeting on Wednesday held under the chairmanship of the prime minister Narendra Modi, approved procurement of 73 Light Combat Aircrafts (LCA) Tejas Mk-1A fighter aircrafts and 10 LCA Tejas Mk-1 trainer aircrafts from the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) at a cost of about Rs 48,000 crores.

According to a defence ministry spokesman, while the 83 aircrafts would cost Rs. 45,696 crores, design and infrastructure development sanctioned for the IAF under the project would cost Rs.1,202 crores.

LCA Mk-1A variant is an indigenously designed, developed and manufactured state-of-the-art modern 4+ generation fighter aircraft. The aircraft 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 aircrafts with an indigenous content of 50% which will progressively reach 60% by the end of the programme.

The defence minister Rajnath Singh while thanking the prime minister for approving the “largest indigenous defence procurement deal” to strengthen IAF’s fleet of homegrown light combat aircraft, said the Tejas fleet “is going to be the backbone of the IAF fighter fleet in years to come. LCA-Tejas incorporates a large number of new technologies many of which were never attempted in India,” he said.

Singh said the new Tejas fleet would be a “game changer for self-reliance in the Indian defence manufacturing and would act as a catalyst for transforming the Indian aerospace manufacturing ecosystem into a vibrant Atmanirbhar-self-sustaining ecosystem,”

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 manufacturing of LCAs by the HAL would give a further push to Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative and boost indigenisation of defence production and the defence industry in the country,” the spokesman said. About 500 Indian companies including MSMEs in the design and manufacturing sectors will be working with HAL in this procurement.


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