On Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a sortie on Tejas aircraft at the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) facility in Bengaluru, Karnataka.
Modi expressed his satisfaction after successfully carrying out a mission on the Tejas aircraft. The encounter proved to be highly rewarding, greatly reinforcing his belief in our nation’s self-sufficiency and instilling a fresh wave of pride and hope for our country’s future. This statement was shared by Modi on X along with a selection of photographs.
During his visit, he had plans to inspect HAL’s manufacturing facility, which includes the production of Tejas jets. The prime minister has been advocating for the domestic production of defense products and has emphasized the government’s efforts to increase manufacturing and exports in India.
The Tejas, a lightweight combat aircraft, has garnered interest from various countries, and a partnership between HAL and US defense company GE Aerospace was established to jointly produce engines for the Mk-II-Tejas during Modi’s visit to the US.
According to defense sources, the government led by Modi has implemented significant measures to enhance our defense readiness and promote domestic production, which encompasses the Tejas aircraft.
The initial variant of this aircraft was introduced into the Indian Air Force (IAF) in 2016. As of now, the IAF has two fully operational squadrons, namely the 45 Squadron and 18 Squadron, equipped with the LCA Tejas, as stated by the sources.
According to the sources, the Modi government has placed an order worth ₹36,468 crore with HAL for the delivery of 83 LCA Mk 1A aircraft. The delivery of these aircraft is scheduled to commence by February 2024. Additionally, it has been reported that more than ₹9,000 crore have been allocated for the development of LCA Mk 2, an enhanced and more powerful version of LCA Tejas. In order to further promote indigenisation, including the manufacturing of the aircraft engine, negotiations for the Transfer of Technology with GE have been conducted during the Prime Minister’s visit to the US in June 2023.
In April, Rajnath Singh, the defence minister, announced that India had achieved a record-breaking defence export figure of ₹15,920 crore for the fiscal year 2022-2023. This was a significant accomplishment for the nation, according to him. Recently, in October, Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari, the Chief of Air Staff, revealed that the Indian Air Force was in the process of finalising a deal worth ₹1.15 lakh crore to acquire an additional batch of 97 Tejas Mark-1A aircraft. Additionally, they were planning to upgrade 84 Sukhoi-30MKI jets at a cost of ₹60,000 crore.
In February of this year, the defence ministry finalized a deal worth ₹48,000 crore with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, a state-run aerospace major, to acquire 83 Tejas MK-1A jets for the Indian Air Force. This procurement, along with an additional 97 Tejas Mark-1A jets, will bring the total number of domestically-produced aircraft being acquired by the IAF to 180. The Chief of Air Staff also announced that 84 Sukhoi-30MKI fighter jets will undergo upgrades at a cost of slightly over ₹60,000 crore.
Next year, the defence ministry is considering a contract with HAL to acquire 156 light combat helicopters, with 66 of them intended for the IAF. Currently, the IAF has 10 light combat helicopters in operation. The contract for 83 LCA-Mark 1As has already been signed, and an additional 97 aircraft are being considered to supplement the contract, bringing the total to around 180 LCA-Mark-1As. The contract value is expected to be over 1.15 lakh crores. Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari stated that HAL may increase production in partnership with the private sector to meet the delivery timeline, as they can currently only produce 15 of them annually.
The procurement of LCA-Mark-1A jets is not dependent on the future procurement of Tejas Mark-2 Light Combat Aircraft, as stated by the Chief of Air Staff. The Tejas Mark2 aircraft, which is eagerly awaited, is projected to be prepared for its inaugural flight by 2025. The Tejas aircraft is a versatile fighter aircraft with a single engine, capable of functioning effectively in air environments with high levels of threat. Its design enables it to carry out tasks such as air defense, maritime reconnaissance, and striking operations.