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Updated: March 26, 2011 13:12 IST

DRDO official sees good export potential for Tejas

C. Jaishankar
Comment (8)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
W. Selvamurthy
W. Selvamurthy

W. Selvamurthy, Chief Controller, Life Sciences, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), said there could be a good export market for Tejas, the country's first indigenously built supersonic fighter aircraft, if the Centre okayed it.

Speaking to The Hindu recently, he said the DRDO had already received enquiries for Tejas from various countries.

The plane was given Initial Operating Clearance (IOC) only recently by Defence Minister A. K. Antony. The Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) was the star attraction at the recently conducted Aero India air show in Bangalore, in which 45 countries took part.

Rare capability

Saying India was among very few countries in the world capable of producing fighter planes, Mr. Selvamurthy said that third world countries, developing countries and even some of the developed countries were markets for Tejas.

Since the production cost, research and development cost of the Tejas was relatively low compared to the other fighter aircraft, India could sell the Tejas at a lower price.

Since the production models were doing extremely well, there wouldn't be any problem in obtaining Final Operating Clearance (FCA) for the fighter aircraft, he said.

In line with the requirements of the Indian Air Force, the process of fine tuning Tejas, including flight envelope, flight manoeuvrability, payload integration and other issues have been taken up.

The fighter plane is expected to get the Final Operating Clearance in the first quarter of 2012, the official said.

Production completed

Mr. Selvamurthy said out of 40 Tejas aircraft ordered by the Indian Air Force (IAF), the Hindustan Aeronautical Limited (HAL) had already completed production of 10. It had already been figured in the inventory of IAF. Another 20 aircraft would be completed after the Final Operating Clearance is given.

It is expected that an order might be received for a large number of aircraft in 2012. HAL had also geared up its capacity building facilities, including assembly line and others.

It planned to increase the capacity to increase the number of aircrafts built in a year to meet the growing demand.

The distinguished scientist said the cost of aircraft, which stood around Rs.130 crore, was expected to come down once the HAL started large-scale production of Tejas.

The country had been placed in comfortable position as far as Tejas was concerned as it was not depended upon anybody for lifecycle support, maintenance cost and others because of the indigenous technology.

People who need to scream and shout are the end users i.e. the IAF - not the energetic net bloggers and posters - who always strike the required condescending pose with regard to all things Desi - It would be hilarious if this whole jamaat is brought face to face with the DRDO guys at some point and some frank talking begins - with the exit routes blocked...the 'knowledgeable' will be sinking under their seats....! About the only relevant point for discussion here would be that of the 'timeline' for development...maybe the know-it-alls need to talk to the IAF - how many times has the force changed its requirements mid-way through the project etc - and why shouldn't they - everybody wants the best and so do the IAF. The fact that they've accepted the Tejas may be a signal - whether or not our hugely concerned bloggers and posters like it - that given the slot that the Tejas occupies - they are getting the best !!!

from:  Rajiv Singh
Posted on: Mar 21, 2011 at 20:11 IST

The others did not try because they knew it was not going to be achieved in that time scale.DRDO happily leaves out Time everytime.It still does not answer the question of WHAT people would have said had they tried and achieved these same results.Putting it bluntly. Has the LCA project been beneficial to ADA? YES! BUT has it been beneficial to the Nation? There are a lot of people who will say no. Has it benefited the customer 28 years after launch. NO! IF DRDO had given reasonable timeliness and kept within reasonable overshoots then the story would have been acceptable.DONT stop the LCA and get busy withe the MCA.

from:  Surya
Posted on: Mar 11, 2011 at 20:02 IST

Totally agree with Arun here. Armchair critics such as Prithvi and Surya should consider the difficulties before posting. Designing an aircraft - including a signficant number of its sub-systems - from scratch, with little to no previous experience (Marut was designed by Germans), is clearly not easy; it takes hard work, a lot of patience and the willingness to make mistakes in order to learn from it. The Americans and Russians had similar teething problems during the gestation periods of their aircraft manufacturing industry. Arun's other point is valid as well; private industry will shy away, at least initially, from aircraft manufacturing because it is just too complex and expensive without an industry base first being established. This base can only be established by government agencies. I for one am confident the Tejas over time will show itself to be a very competent fighter - up there with the best in its class - and will build the foundation for expertise in the industry through both public and later private companies.

from:  Arnab
Posted on: Mar 10, 2011 at 18:11 IST

Ill informed amateurs like Prithvi display the typical Indian attitude, of only looking towards imports which are judged to be better even though an indian product is often better than that imported from a country which does slick marketing but is unable to provide proper India specific requirements. The market for a cheap fighter is anything but small, it's huge especially if India indigenizes critical components like the engine which are usually subject to export restrictions from the US. The high end will belong to aircraft like the PAKFA/FGFA or the US JSF. Where in the article does it mention that the DRDO is not making the primary customer happy or is even not focused on it. But of course, they must suffer the sanctimonious advice trotted out by people like Prithvi to any organization which attempts a hard task. Then we have the ignoramuses like Surya who dont even know that way back in the 1980s, the TATAs, the Mahindras and even the Bajajs were all offered stewardship of the LCA project, and all refused because the technical challenges were deemed to complex for these firms to handle, hence ADA and HAL were nominated. Of course, facts to the contrary are dismissed as being 'patriotic' and hence, not relevant. The reality is that a Nano or an Indica is nowhere as complex as designing and making a fighter aircraft, that too equal to any of its peers and that is something that is to ADA's and India's credit, despite ill informed naysayers.

from:  Arun
Posted on: Mar 10, 2011 at 03:32 IST

It is all very well for the Prithvis and Suryas to criticize the Tejas but consider this: 1. The Tejas is far superior to the improved MiG 21s and the MiG 23s. 2. By 2017 400 such fighters will have to be retired in phases (MiGs). 3. What alternatives do we have ? An inferior combat aircraft is much better than no combat aircraft. The Sukhois and the MMRCAs have many years of aircraft building experience Hence they are so good now. HAL and the ADA will also build high quality aircraft in the years to come provided they are given the encouragement. Mere sophisticated aircraft are not enough, numbers are also required as is seen by the USAF in its recent experience in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is a good experience for HAL to ramp up its production.40 aircraft in 5 years is truly pathetic they should be doing it in one year flat. Besides, the IAF has made it very clear that it will deploy the initial production of the Tejas at Sulur in Coinbatore which is for peace time operations. So what is it with you guys if the IAF is given a complement of atleast 200 Tejas MkI ?????

from:  Suresh Rao
Posted on: Mar 9, 2011 at 22:59 IST

Typical DRDO statement. Agree with Prithvi. There appears to be a very organized 'fanboys' club which will distort facts and suppress criticism. I have always wondered what would have happened if a non DRDO organization- HAL or Tata or Mahindra had achieved the identical performance with the identical resources and identical time. DRDO would have been the first to shout and criticise.I am sure quite rightly, there would be a ruckus in the Parliament with Ministers accused of sabotaging national interests.This idea of 'patriotism' reminds me that appeals are made to patriotism when things cannot be justified.But DON'T stop the LCA. ADA MUST complete the course!

from:  Surya
Posted on: Mar 9, 2011 at 16:16 IST

The weapons systems developed by India even though fraught with delays has emerged as world class performers.Be it Arjun (which gave T-90 a run for it's money in the sands of Rajasthan) or Dhruv- ALH ( which proved it's mettle by landing in Siachen glacier) our weapon systems are proving their strength against the best in the world. I am proud to be an Indian. I foresee a future where in India will emerge as a global giant producing high quality weapon systems and platforms. Only thing is that India needs to bring in professionalism for marketing these platforms.

from:  Manoj Ambat
Posted on: Mar 8, 2011 at 21:40 IST

This is what is known as 'delusions of grandeur'. Sir, first try and make the primary customer, the Indian Air force satisfied, maybe then others will give it a try. Though, the market for a cheap 'unproven' 4th gen fighter is very small considering all the competition the Tejas would face from the Chinese, the Russians and smaller manufacturers like the Koreans and the Brazilians. The Tejas is our Maruti 800 (or Tata nano if Kaveri engine materializes?) of fighter aircraft, let's just call a spade a spade shall we?

from:  Prithvi
Posted on: Mar 8, 2011 at 19:25 IST
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