The current government is stepping up firmly on the accelerator to push the concept of indigenisation in the defence sector and stretching further on that front, Cabinet Committee on Security led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has cleared the much-awaited proposal to buy 83 LCA Tejas Mk1 for the Indian Air Force. This deal of worth Rs 48000 crore is referred to by the Defence Minister Rajnath Singh as “a game-changer for self-reliance in the Indian defence manufacturing” sector. Read more abut the MK1 Tejas Mk1A Deal.
In doing so, the government has shortened what were expected to be two separate orders for 83 Mk1A jets and 18 Mk1 trainers, for a total of 101 aircraft, almost definitely to meet budgetary plans on the programme.
As per the official statement released by the Ministry of Defence, “Light Combat Aircraft Mk1A variant is an indigenously designed, developed and manufactured state-of-the-art modern 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, IAF.
It is the first “Buy (Indian-Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured)” category procurement of combat aircraft with an indigenous content of 50% which will progressively reach 60% by the end of the programme. The Cabinet has also approved infrastructure development by IAF under the project to enable them to handle repairs or servicing at their base depot so that the turnaround time would get reduced for mission-critical systems and would lead to the increased availability of aircraft for operational exploitation. This would enable IAF to sustain the fleet more efficiently and effectively due to the availability of repair infrastructure at respective bases.”
As a part of this deal, the IAF will start procuring single-engine LCA Tejas Mk1A from HAL after three years and all 83 jets, which include 10 Mark-1 trainers, are slated for delivery in the January 2024-December 2028 timeframe.
Interestingly, the major portion of the deal will be spent in foreign exchanges as the ‘Desi’ Tejas MK.1 fighter is equipped with 50 % ‘Vedsi’ parts including the engine. However, the defence minister Rajnath Singh said the indigenous content level will go up to 60% by the time the 83 jet rolls out.
“The LCA-Tejas 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. The indigenous content of LCA-Tejas is 50% in Mk1A variant which will be enhanced to 60%,” he stated.