The Cabinet Committee on Security on Wednesday approved a defence procurement deal, including that for the purchase of Tejas aircraft, at the cost of about Rs 48,000 crore, Union Minister Rajnath Singh said. There are 73 light combat aircraft and 10 trainer jets acquired at the price of Rs 45,696 along with design and development of infrastructure sanctions worth Rs 1,202 crore, Mint reported.
“The CCS [Cabinet Committee on Security] chaired by PM Shri Narendra Modi today approved the largest indigenous defence procurement deal worth about Rs 48,000 crores to strengthen IAF’s [Indian Air Force] fleet of homegrown fighter jet ‘LCA [Light Combat Aircraft]-Tejas’,” Singh tweeted. “This deal will be a game changer for self reliance in the Indian defence manufacturing.”
The Indian Air Force will acquire the 83 light combat aircraft Tejas fighters from Hindustan Aeronautics, a public sector undertaking, in the biggest indigenous defence procurement deal in the military aviation sector, The Times of India reported.
These deliveries of the aircraft will begin three years after the actual contract is signed in early February. The fighters will have 43 “improvements” over the 40 Tejas Mark-1 that have already been ordered by the air force. “LCA-Tejas incorporates a large number of new technologies many of which were never attempted in India,” the defence minister said in a series of tweets. “The indigenous content of LCA-Tejas is 50% in Mk1A variant which will be enhanced to 60%.”
Singh said the decision to approve the deal will expand the current light combat aircraft ecosystem and assist in creating new job opportunities. He said that the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited has already set-up second line manufacturing facilities at its Nashik and Bengaluru divisions. “Equipped with the augmented infrastructure the HAL will steer LCA-Mk1A production for timely deliveries to the IAF,” the defence minister tweeted.
In another tweet, Singh thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for making the decision to approve the deal, adding that it would help in transforming the Indian aerospace manufacturing space into a “vibrant” self-reliant ecosystem.
The IAF has till now only inducted 20 of its earlier ordered 40 fighters into its Tejas squadrons, the “Flying Daggers” and “Flying Bullets” at Sulur near Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu.
The air force is also looking to induct 170 Tejas Mark-2 or the medium weight fighter jets that have more powerful engines and advanced avionics. The IAF is currently focusing on adding the 123 fighter jets, including the earlier 40, to its fighter squadrons, which is down to 30. At least 42 such squadrons are needed to act as a deterrence against China and Pakistan, according to the English daily.
Meanwhile, the Cabinet Committee on Security also approved infrastructure development to enable repair or servicing of aircraft at duty stations. The government said that this will bring down the turnaround time for mission-critical systems and lead to an increased availability of jets for operations.