HAL awarded contract for 83 LCAs in₹48,000 cr. deal

‘Our resolve shown by our growing defence capabilities’, says Rajnath at inaugural of Aero India

February 03, 2021 01:32 pm | Updated 08:51 pm IST - BENGALURU

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh (centre) along with Karnataka CM B.S. Yediyurappa (left) and CODS Gen. Bipin Rawat during the inaugural ceremony of Aero India 2021 show, in Bengaluru.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh (centre) along with Karnataka CM B.S. Yediyurappa (left) and CODS Gen. Bipin Rawat during the inaugural ceremony of Aero India 2021 show, in Bengaluru.

At the 13th edition of Aero India in Bengaluru, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) was awarded the contract to manufacture 83 Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas for the Indian Air Force (IAF) at an estimated cost of ₹48,000 crore while India showcased a range of indigenous military platforms to the world.

Also read: Govt formally seals ₹48,000 crore deal to procure 83 Tejas LCA from HAL

Speaking at the inaugural event, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said, “We have long witnessed unfortunate attempts to employ force to change the status quo along our unresolved border and India is vigilant and prepared to counter and defeat any misadventure to change and defend our people and territorial integrity at all costs. Our resolve towards this is shown by our growing defence capabilities…We plan to spend $130 bn on military modernisation in the next 7-8 year”. He urged global defence companies to set up manufacturing units.

India faced threats and challenges emanating from multiple fronts and it was a victim of state-sponsored terrorism, which was now a global threat, he pointed out.

Defence Ministers’ conclave

Mr. Singh will hold an Indian Ocean Region (IOR) Defence Ministers’ conclave during the show, which has been restricted to three business days due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“India has a vast coastline, but our interests also lie beyond our shores. It includes our people who reside and work across continents, especially in IOR. It is our bound duty to remain capable and willing to assist them in times of calamities and security challenges,” he stated.

Speaking later at an Air Chief’s conclave, he said India’s unique disposition in the IOR, complimented by a potent airlift capability of the IAF, enables it to contribute significantly in Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief (HADR) missions. The IAF was capable of undertaking precision strikes upto 3000 km away from the mainland.

Also read: Indian defence sector will be highlight of Aero India 2021

Stressing on indigenisation, he observed, “We have reached an infliction point in domestic defence manufacturing and the trajectory can only be upwards.”

LCA contract

On the LCA contract, he said, “This contract is the biggest Make in India defence contract till date.” The contract includes 73 LCA Tejas Mk-1A fighter aircraft and 10 LCA Tejas Mk-1 trainer aircraft at a cost of ₹45,696 crore along with design and development of infrastructure sanctions worth ₹1,202 crore.

Also read: Robust, calibrated response led to stabilisation of border situation: Rajnath

“The deliveries of all 83 aircraft shall be completed in eight years from now. HAL will be delivering the first three aircraft in the 3rd year and 16 aircraft per year for subsequent five years,” a Defence Ministry statement said.

HAL has already set up a second assembly line to ramp up production from eight aircraft a year to 16. HAL officials said a third assembly line could be set up based on requirement.

The MK-1A has significant capability additions over the current variants. It will have over 40 modifications over the MK1 variant, including major ones such as the Electronic Warfare system, Advanced Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missiles and network warfare system including Software Defined Radio (SDR). The modifications will be incorporated on the LCA concurrently along with the production.

For the MK-1A, HAL has outsourced significant work share to the private industry while it acts as a ‘system of systems integrator’. It has has over 550 vendors for the LCA that 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.

Air Chief’s call

Speaking at the Air Chiefs conclave, Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal (ACM) RKS Bhadauria said, “globally we are facing unprecedented levels of ‘uncertainty, volatility and interconnected threats’.” In this regard he pitched for greater regional coordination.

“To deepen the HADR cooperation and coordination among our neighbours, we have also been conducting regular exercises with an aim to mutually share our expertise and assist in capability building. To enhance such interoperability further, we should look at establishing a methodology for sharing ISR grid when necessary,” he stated.

Stressing the need for a very high degree of networked situational awareness for decision-makers, he said a “cooperative and collaborative” network centric approach for information sharing and partnerships in combating subversive activities would go a long way.

Air display

As part of efforts to boost defence exports, HAL displaed an Aatmanidbhar formation consisting of its platforms- LCA trainer, HTT-40 trainer, Intermediate Jet Trainer ?(IJT), Advanced Hawk Mk-132 and Civil Dornier Do-228.

LCA Tejas and Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) too performed various manoeuvres showcasing their capabilities.

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