In a major defence deal, the Union government on Wednesday approved procurement of 83 indigenously-developed light combat aircraft Tejas for the Indian Air Force (IAF) at a cost of Rs 48,000 crore. The decision was taken at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said.
In a tweet, Singh said the deal will be a "game-changer" for self-reliance in defence manufacturing in India.
"The CCS chaired by PM Narendra Modi today approved the largest indigenous defence procurement deal worth about 48000 crores to strengthen IAF's fleet of homegrown fighter jet 'LCA-Tejas'," he said.
The aircrafts will consist of 73 LCA Tejas Mk-1A fighter aircrafts and 10 LCA Tejas Mk-1 Trainer aircrafts. Light Combat Aircraft Mk-1A variant is an indigenously designed, developed and manufactured state-of-the-art modern 4+ generation fighter aircraft, according to a Press Information Bureau (PIB) statement. The aircraft will be 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).
The Defence Minister said Tejas is going to be the backbone of the fighter fleet of the Indian Air Force in years to come.
About three years ago, the IAF had issued an initial tender for procurement of 83 Tejas aircraft, a four-and-half generation combat jet.
"LCA-Tejas incorporates a large number of new technologies, many of which were never attempted in India. The indigenous content of LCA-Tejas is 50 percent in Mk1A variant which will be enhanced to 60%,â€ť Singh said.
The Defence Minister said that aircraft maker Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) has already set up second-line manufacturing facilities at its Nasik and Bengaluru divisions.
"Equipped with the augmented infrastructure the HAL will steer LCA-Mk1A production for timely deliveries to the IAF," he said.
Singh said the Tejas programme would act as a catalyst for transforming the Indian aerospace manufacturing ecosystem into a vibrant, self-sustaining one.
"I thank the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi for this historic decision taken by the CCS today," the Defence Minister said.
According to PIB, the cabinet has also approved infrastructure development by IAF under the project to enable handling repairs or servicing at their base depot. This is to reduce time for mission critical systems and it would lead to increased availability of the aircraft. â€śThis would enable IAF to sustain the fleet more efficiently and effectively due to availability of repair infrastructure at respective bases,â€ť it said.