India has always been proud of its defence preparedness and its considerable back-up of procurement of arms. Also Government has cleared the procedure by allowing into Indian Air Force (IAF) of another four squadrons of Indigenous Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCAs). Taking the lead, PM Modi and the Union Cabinet approved the acquisition of 83 jets.
HAL will serve as the leading aircraft manufacturer at a target pace of 16 fighters per year. The first aircraft will be delivered three years after the contract has been signed by HAL and the IAF.
The defence ministry confirmed that the government had authorised the procurement of 73 LCA Tejas Mark 1A fighter aircraft and 10 LCA Tejas Mark 1 trainer aircraft at the cost of Rs 45,696 Crore, along with the design and construction of infrastructure sanctions worth Rs 1,202 Crore.
The Ministry of Defence has taken at least 3 years to negotiate this deal with HAL. The Defence Ministry issued “acceptance of necessity” to 83 Tejas aircraft in December 2017, and HAL submitted technological and commercial bids in March 2018. Since then, logistical problems and the price have been agreed between the two parties.
“This is the first ‘Buy (Indian – Indigenous Designed, Developed and Manufactured)’ category of combat aircraft with an indigenous content of 50 per cent, which will gradually reach 60 per cent by the end of the programme,” the Ministry of Defence declared.
The agreed price is around Rs 550 crore per Tejas Mark 1A fighter, which is substantially higher than the Rs 430 crore Ea fighter price.
The IAF has already ordered two Tejas Mark 1 fighter squadrons. This order would take the Tejas squadron to six, after which the larger, more efficient Tejas Mark 2 fighter is expected to enter service.