The Indian Cabinet today approved procurement of 83 LCA Tejas Mk 1-A from Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) for the Indian Air Force (IAF). The deal is worth nearly 48,000 Cr, and is expected to benefit about 500 Indian defense manufacturing companies in the private sector as well. The order is for 73 LCA Tejas Mk 1-A and 10 LCA Tejas Mk 1-A trainers.
“Light Combat Aircraft Mk-1A variant is an indigenously designed, developed and manufactured state-of-the-art modem 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 program,” said the Ministry of Defence release.
As per the plan, the delivery of the Mark 1A aircrafts will start within three years of the contract being signed and the entire lot will be delivered in five years. The deal includes Rs 2,300 Crores for the development and design of infrastructure and Rs 7000 Crores taxes and duties.
Private sector companies Larsen & Toubro, VEM Technologies, Alpha Tocol, Tata Advanced Materials and Dynamatic Technologies are expected to be major private sector beneficiaries of this deal as they manufacture the fuselages, wing, tail fin and rudder of LCA Tejas.
At present, the IAF operates Squadron Number 45 ‘the Flying Daggers’ with 16 aircrafts of the Mark 1 baseline Tejas variant. The IAF has also operationalised the Number 18 squadron ‘Flying Bullets’ for LCA Tejas. This squadron has started receiving Tejas Mk-1 final operational configuration (FOC) aircrafts. A total number of 15 MK-1 aircrafts have been ordered. These form the order for for 40 LCAs, including trainers, that were placed in two tranches in 2006 and 2010. All deliveries are scheduled to be completed in 2022. Both the Squadrons are based in Sulur, Coimbatore.
India is also developing LCA Tejas Mk-II, a medium-weight variant designed to replace the Mirage 2000 fighters which are currently in the IAF service. The preliminary design phase is over and detailed design work is in progress. MK-11 will have a higher-thrust GE F414 engine compared with the LCA Mk-I which uses the GE F404 Engine.