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CCS okays 83 LCAs worth around ₹47,000 cr. for IAF

File photo of Tejas-Mk 1A  

In the biggest indigenous defence deal, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) on Wednesday approved the manufacture of 83 Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the Indian Air Force (IAF) at a cost of around ₹47,000 crore.

“The Cabinet met under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister in New Delhi on January 13 and has approved procurement of 73 LCA Tejas Mk-1A fighter aircraft and 10 LCA Tejas Mk-1 trainer aircraft at the cost of ₹45,696 crore along with design and development of infrastructure sanctions worth ₹1,202 Crore,” the Defence Ministry said in a statement.

“This deal would be a game changer for self reliance in the Indian defence manufacturing, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Twitter.

The indigenous content of the LCA-Tejas was 50% in the MK1A variant and it would be enhanced to 60% by the end of the programme, he added.

40 modifications

The MK-1A would have over 40 modifications over the MK1 variant, including some major ones like an Electronic Warfare system, Advanced Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missiles and a network warfare system comprising Software Defined Radio (SDR), a defence official said.

 

The modifications would be incorporated on the LCA concurrently along with the production once the deal is signed, a defence official said.

The Cabinet also approved infrastructure development by the IAF under the project to enable them handle repairs or servicing at their base depot so that the turnaround time would get reduced for mission critical systems and lead to increased availability of aircraft for operational exploitation, the statement said. “This would enable the IAF to sustain the fleet more efficiently and effectively due to availability of repair infrastructure at respective bases,” it added.

The first LCA MK-1A is expected to roll out from 2023-24 onwards, from which HAL plans to ramp up the production rate to 16 aircraft a year. While a second line had been set up, production on both lines has been kept at eight aircraft a year to keep the assembly running due to limited orders. “A third assembly line will also be ready by 2023-24 to further ramp up production,” the official said.

Outsourcing work share

For the MK-1A, HAL is outsourcing significant work share to the private industry while it will act as a ‘system of systems integrator’. HAL has has over 550 vendors for the LCA, which includes five companies manufacturing the structures.

The IAF has ordered 40 LCA Tejas in two batches of 20 each in the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) and the Final Operational Clearance (FOC) configurations and has raised two squadrons. Till date, 16 aircraft have been delivered to it in the IOC configuration, which form the first squadron that was operationalised in July 2016. Delivery of the FOC aircraft has also commenced with improved weapons capability, enhanced fight envelope, inflight refuelling capability and advanced features for low-speed handling.

The 40 jets also include eight trainer variant that are scheduled to be delivered from 2023 onwards.

A ‘high priority’

In a recent conversation with The Hindu, Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadhauria termed the deal a ‘high priority’. Last May, the IAF formally inducted into service the first FOC standard LCA and operationalised its second LCA squadron N0. 18 'Flying Bullets'.

The deal once signed will take the order book for the LCA Tejas to 123. There is also a LCA MK-2 under development.

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Printable version | Jan 16, 2021 9:21:09 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/ccs-approves-83-lca-mk-1a-jets-worth-over-48000-crore/article33568729.ece

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