BENGALURU: Many countries have shown interest in India's indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) — 'Tejas', Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Tuesday while inaugurating the third production line for the fighter jet in Bengaluru. The LCA unit was inaugurated a day before the mega 'Aero India' show.
During his inaugural speech, Singh said that under the 'Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan', the country looks forward to increase its defence manufacturing capabilities. "India cannot remain dependent on other countries for its defence needs," said the Minister.
"Tejas is not only indigenous, but also better than its foreign equivalents on several parameters and also comparatively cheaper. Many countries have shown interest in Tejas. India will achieve the target of Rs 1.75 lakh crore in defence manufacturing in a few years," he said in a tweet.
Last month, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), the highest decision-making body for security-related issues and headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved the purchase of 83 Tejas fighter jets at a cost of Rs 48,000 crore, including infrastructure, for the Indian Air Force.
The CCS approved the largest indigenous defence procurement deal to strengthen the IAF fleet of home-grown LCA.
Of the 83, HAL is all set to manufacture 73 Mark 1-A, the new variant of the Tejas which will be more potent and effective than the previous Mark-1. Ten others will be Mark-1 trainers.
Giving details about the Cabinet decision, the Defence Ministry had said in a statement: "The Cabinet has approved procurement of 73 LCA Tejas Mk-1A fighter aircraft and 10 LCA Tejas Mk-1 trainer aircraft at the cost of Rs. 45,696 crore along with design and development of infrastructure sanctions worth Rs 1,202 crore."
Light Combat Aircraft Mk-1A variant is an indigenously designed, developed and manufactured state-of-the-art modern 4+ generation fighter aircraft. It 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), a potent platform to meet the operational requirements of Indian Air Force.
The LCA will be the backbone of the IAF fighters in the years to come. 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 per cent in the Mk-1A variant which will be enhanced to 60 per cent.
The Light Combat Aircraft Tejas is indigenously designed by the Aircraft Development Agency (ADA) under the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
HAL follows a system integrator model in the LCA Mk-1A programme and acts as an umbrella organisation, fostering manufacturing and design capabilities in private industry.
The 83 LCA are in addition to 40 LCA Mark-1, for which the IAF placed an order in 2016 with HAL so as to set up two squadrons of the fighter jets at its Sulur air base in Tamil Nadu's Coimbatore. The first LCA squadron was raised in 2016.
The HAL has since delivered 20 Tejas and is in the process of delivering the remaining 20.
"The phase-1 of the facility getting ready on 35 acres of land will enable us to enhance its production capacity to 16 from eight aircrafts every year," said HAL Chairman R Madhavan.
Defence Production Secretary Raj Kumar, Karnataka Minister Arvind Limbavali, Deputy Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Sandeep Singh and Director General (Aero) Tessy Thomas were present at the inaugural event.
"We will deliver the 83 aircrafts to the IAF over a decade, commencing 36 months from contract signing, with 16 fighters in a year," said the company in a statement here.
The LCA production programme will catalyse the aerospace ecosystem in the country and enable us to fulfil the Prime Minister's vision for 'Atmanirbhar Bharat', added the statement.