On 13th January 2021, the government took a giant leap towards the Make in India mission, announcing procurement of 83 Tejas light combat aircraft from Hindustan Aeronautics. The order worth around Rs 48,000 crore is the biggest ever deal given to an Indian manufacturer.
This is a landmark moment for project Tejas, which had began work on making light combat aircraft (LCA) over 30 years ago in 1983. The government wanted to release the first aircraft by 1994. However, the first prototype of LCA flew only in 2001, that's 18 years after the project started. It was in 2019, when the Indian Air Force was given the first aircraft with final operational clearance.
This version of Tejas light combat aircraft Mark-1A comes with four major capabilities over the current variant of LCA.
These include mid-air refuelling, enhancing the combat ability & maintainability, improvements through incorporation of active electronically scanned array radar, electronic warfare suite and beyond visual range missile capabilities.
The Tejas deal will give a big boost to several other domestic manufacturers. Over 70 Indian suppliers are involved in manufacturing various parts of the aircraft. About 500 Indian companies, including MSMEs, will be working with HAL in producing the aircraft.
HAL plans to roll out 16 aircraft every year starting FY2023-24.
In an interview with Shereen Bhan, R Madhavan, chairman and managing director of HAL, said, "The first aircraft is to be delivered within 36 months of date of signing the contract. We are increasing our production capacity from 8 to 16 aircrafts from 2022-23 onwards."
He said, "The average cost of the aircraft over the whole period is Rs 309 crore per aircraft."
"Navy requires an aircraft which is twin engine so that they have a sufficient load carrying capacity. So we are looking at a naval version light combat aircraft with twin engine to come up in future. Navy requires this aircraft from 2028 to 2032 onwards, so somewhere around 2028 we should be ready with the first aircraft", he said.Watch video for more.