The Indian Air Force has placed orders for 83 Tejas light combat aircraft with the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited in Bengaluru, Business Standard reported on Thursday.

“HAL has received Request for Proposal for 83 LCAs [light combat aircraft] from Indian Air Force,” the organisation said in a press note on Wednesday. The move is seen as a big step towards defence indigenisation.

Earlier on Wednesday, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said in a written reply in the Parliament that the Defence Acquisitions Council had cleared the acquisition of 83 Tejas Mark 1A light combat aircraft for the Indian Air Force. Their production is planned from 2019-20, she had said.

The cost of one aircraft is about Rs 400 crore. This implies that the 83-fighter deal would generate business worth around Rs 33,200 crore for HAL and other Indian and foreign suppliers, the report said.

HAL already has an order to manufacture 40 fighters – 20 in the initial operational configuration, followed by another 20 in the final operational configuration. However, it has so far only delivered five fighters to the Indian Air Force, the Defence Ministry told the Parliament.

“The production of the remaining 15 initial operational configuration aircraft are taken up at HAL,” the ministry said. “Production for 20 final operational configuration aircraft will be taken up after clearance by Aeronautical Development Agency.”

The ministry also told the Parliament that the Centre has planned to manufacture fighter aircraft through strategic partnership model to bolster the fighter squadron strength. In May, the Union Cabinet had approved the strategic partnership model to allow domestic private companies to form joint ventures with foreign defence equipment manufacturers.