Indian Air Force to Add 83 New Light Attack Aircraft


By India Strategic

New Delhi. The Government has cleared production and acquisition of 83 indigenous HAL-made Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas for Indian Air Force (IAF).

The cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) headed by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the apex authority on Defence, approved the deal January 13 for these aircraft with the state-run HAL in a major step forward towards enhancing IAF’s capability on the one hand and HAL’s industrial strength in military aviation on the other.

The deal is worth Rs 48000 cr ($6.5 billion), and includes production of 73 Tejas Mk 1A fighter aircraft and 10 Mk 1 Trainers. The cost covers Rs 45696 cr ($6.34 billion) for the aircraft and Rs 1202 cr ($160 million) for Design and development of Infrastructure sanctions.

This is the largest defence deal for any indigenous system in India.

“Success of LCA Tejas programme is a collaborative effort of ADA as lead design agency, HAL as lead production agency, many DRDO labs, IAF, NFTC, CEMILAC, DGQA, CSIR, eminent national academic institutions like IITs, NITs, IISC etc, private sector industries and few hundred MSMEs,” the Defence and Research Department (DRDO) tweeted.

The cabinet has also approved infrastructure development by IAF to enable it repair or service aircraft at its base depots so that the turnaround time would get reduced for mission critical systems and would lead to increased availability of aircraft for operational exploitation. “This would enable IAF to sustain the fleet more efficiently and effectively due to availability of repair infrastructure at respective bases,” the Defence Ministry said.

The IAF currently operates two Tejas squadrons. The first, 45 Squadron – Flying Daggers – was formed on July 1, 2016 with two aircraft. Initially stationed at Bengaluru, 45 Squadron was later relocated to its home base at Sulur, Tamil Nadu.

The second, 18 Squadron – Flying Bullets – also stationed at Sulur, was formed on May 27, 2020.

As of 2019, the Indian Air Force has planned for a total of 324 Tejas in several variants. The first batch of 40 Mark 1 aircraft consists of 16 Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) standard that were delivered in early 2019.

The delivery of the second batch of 16 Full Operational Clearance (FOC) standard aircraft commenced in late 2019.

The IAF will also go on to receive eight twin-seat trainers.[4] The 83 now being procured are of the Mk-1A standard. By the time these 123 are delivered, the Tejas Mark 2 is expected to be ready for series production by 2025–26.

The LCA Mk-1A variant is 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) would be a potent platform to meet the operational requirements of Indian Air Force, IAF.

It is the first “Buy (Indian-Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured)” category procurement of combat aircraft with an indigenous content of 50 per cent which will progressively reach 60 per cent by the end of the programme.

“Under the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan, India is continuously growing in its power to indigenously design, develop and manufacture advanced cutting edge technologies and systems in the Defence Sector.

The manufacturing of Light Combat Aircraft by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, HAL will give a further push to Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative and boost indigenisation of defence production and the defence industry in the country.

About 500 Indian companies including MSMEs in the design and manufacturing sectors will be working with HAL in this procurement. The programme would act as a catalyst for transforming the Indian aerospace manufacturing ecosystem into a vibrant Atmanirbhar-self-sustaining ecosystem,” the Defence Ministry said.

This article was published by our partner India Strategic on January 13, 2021.