Ending a long wait, the govt today approved the purchase of the Mk1A version of the indigenously developed Tejas fighter aircraft has for Indian Air Force. The Cabinet Committee of Security chaired by PM Narendra Modi has approved a defence procurement deal worth Rs 48,000 crore for the LCA Tejas Mk1A aircraft. According to the decision, 83 planes will be purchased from HAL under the biggest ever indigenous defence deal.
Defence minister Rajnath Singh revealed the decision on Twitter, saying that “this deal will be a game changer for self reliance in the Indian defence manufacturing.” He said that the LCA-Tejas is going to be the backbone of the IAF fighter fleet in years to come. The minister said that LCA-Tejas incorporates a large number of new technologies many of which were never attempted in India. At present, the indigenous content of LCA-Tejas is 50% in Mk1A variant, and it will be enhanced to 60%.
Rajnath Singh informed that Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has already set-up second line manufacturing facilities at its Nasik and Bengaluru Divisions to manufacture the light combat aircraft. He said that HAL will steer LCA-Mk1A production for timely deliveries to the IAF.
Of the total 83 aircraft, 73 will be fighters and the rest 10 are trainers. HAL is to deliver them by 2026.
Tejas Mk1A is an advanced version of Tejas Mk1 (Final Operational Clearance), which has already been inducted into the IAF with an order for 16 planes. These Mk1(FOC) are upgraded from their previous version Mk1(IOC).
Mk1A has several improvements over the Mk1 version, which includes improved maintainability, active electronically scanned array radar which replaces the mechanically-steered radar, air-to-air refuelling, long-range beyond visual range missiles, advanced electronic warfare to jam enemy radars and missiles etc. The Mark A1 version of the jet will have a total of 43 improvements over the initial version.
The Tejas Mk1A aircraft will replace the aging planes currently operated by Indian Air Force, which include Mig-21 and Jaguar planes.
Today’s CCS approval paves the way for signing a contract with HAL for delivery of the planes.