Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday said that India was prepared to “counter and defeat any misadventures” to defend the people of the country, reported PTI. The Union minister made the comments on the day the Centre formally signed a Rs 48,000-crore deal to procure 83 Tejas light combat aircraft from government-run aerospace company Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.
“We have long witnessed unfortunate attempts to employ force to change the status quo at our unresolved borders,” Singh said at Yelahanka Air Force Station in Bengaluru. “India is vigilant and prepared to counter and defeat any misadventures to defend our people and territorial integrity at all costs.”
The minister was indirectly referring to the international relations between India and China that have hit a multi-decade low since clashes in eastern Ladakh in June, which killed 20 Indian soldiers. China is also believed to have suffered casualties, but has not given any details. Both India and China have accused each other of crossing into rival territory and of firing shots for the first time in 45 years. So far, nine rounds of discussions have been held to resolve the border standoff.
On Tuesday, Singh had said that India “cannot remain dependent on other countries for its defence” while inaugurating HAL’s second Light Combat Aircraft production line in Bengaluru. The defence minister added that Tejas is not only indigenous but also “better than its foreign equivalents” on many parameters, adding that it is “also comparatively cheaper”.
On January 13, the Cabinet Committee on Security approved a defence procurement deal, including that for the purchase of Tejas aircraft, at the cost of about Rs 48,000 crore. 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.
On Wednesday, Defence ministry Director General (Acquisition) VL Kantha Rao handed over the contract to HAL Chairman and Managing Director R Madhavan at the inauguration ceremony of Aero India show, India’s premier defence and aerospace event.
HAL-manufactured Tejas is a single engine supersonic fighter aircraft capable of operating in high-threat air environments.