HAL and BEL sign a mega deal for LCA Tejas Mk 1A fighter jet production

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Vaibhav Agrawal
Vaibhav Agrawal
Vaibhav Agrawal is a Defence and Aerospace Journalist with his articles/works on various digital and print media platforms. He is an Anchor/Host and Correspondent associated with several News Media Organizations. He is responsible for Digital Media and Defense reporting at Frontier India. *Views are personal

A mega deal, rare for the Indian industry, between Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) on Thursday, will involve supplying 20 types of systems for the LCA Tejas Mk 1A program. 

The supply involves flight control computers, night flying LRUs, and critical avionics Line Replaceable Units (LRUs). The five-year contract spanning 2023 to 2028 is valued at Rs 2400 crore.

About the Tejas aircraft

Designed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) in collaboration with the Aircraft Research and Design Centre (ARDC) of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the HAL Tejas is an Indian multirole light fighter particularly made for the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy. 

To replace India’s ageing MiG-21 fighters, the LCA Tejas comes from the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme, which began in the 1980s and was officially named “Tejas” in 2003. It is the smallest and the lightest in its class of contemporary supersonic combat aircraft. 

With “relaxed static stability” for enhanced manoeuvrability and agility, the LCA Tejas is a single-engine multirole combat aircraft with a tailless compound delta wing design. At the same time, its flexibility permits it to carry out interception, anti-shipping roles and air to surface roles in a single mission.

The arsenal of Tejas

Python-5, ASRAAM WVR missiles, R-73, I-Derby and Astra BVR, are included in the Tejas’ anti air weapon suite. Under the starboard side air-intake, the Tejas is equipped with an internal 23 mm Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-23 twin-barreled autocannon. A BrahMos-NG supersonic cruise missile version is being developed for the Tejas.

Earlier this year, orders for HAMMER missiles were placed by the Indian airforce as they are willing to equip these missiles from France to strengthen the capabilities of the indigenous built LCA Tejas fighter aircraft. The fighter aircraft can take out any ground targets, hardened bunkers at stand-off ranges of more than 70 kilometres, once it gets equipped with these missiles. 

The programme 

Two divisions of Bharat Electronics Limited at Bengaluru and Panchkula (Haryana) shall execute the order to supply these systems for the 83 Tejas Mk1A fighter fleet. In a ready to board condition, the contracted items will be delivered by BEL to HAL. 

From FY 2023-24 onwards, the deliveries under 83 Tejas Mk1A orders to IAF will commence. Indigenous flight control computers and air data computers are reportedly equipped by the homegrown fighter, while BEL shall also supply the above-cited computers under this contract. Various labs of DRDO and Aeronautical Development Agency, Bengaluru, have designed and developed these systems.

Additions made

By adding several other capabilities to the Tejas fighter aircraft programme, strong support towards the same has been shown by the Indian Air Force.

A contract has been signed for the 83 Mark 1As, which is set to be delivered within a couple of years in the final operational clearance version. The Indian Air Force has already operationalised two of its squadrons with the Initial Operations Clearance version. 

The interest of the Indian Air Force towards the LCA Mark 2 and the AMCA that is currently being developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is seen evidently.

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