The Cabinet participated in a meeting under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on 13 January and has approved procurement of 83 LCA Tejas Mk-1A fighter aircraft and 10 LCA Tejas Mk-1 Trainer aircraft. The government has previously signed a deal with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for an additional 83 LCA, Tejas, at a whopping Rs 48000 crores, bringing each piece’s cost to approx 600 crores. This is in addition to the 40 + Light Combat Aircraft Mark 1 aircraft that the IAF presently operates. The new ones contracted are the M-1 A version, essentially an upgrade of the existing ones.
The Cabinet has approved infrastructure development by IAF under the project to enable them to handle repairs or service at their base depot. The turnaround time would get reduced for mission-critical systems and lead to increased aircraft availability for operational exploitation. It would enable IAF to sustain the fleet more efficiently and effectively due to the availability of repair infrastructure at respective bases.
Under the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan, India is growing in its power to indigenously design, develop and manufacture advanced cutting edge technologies and systems in the Defence Sector. Recently, purchase of Rs 50,000 crores worth 83 LCA Tejas fighter jets has been a big step in this direction (Aatmnirbhar Bharat Abhiyan). It will generate 50,000 job opportunities. Participation of 500 MSMEs and private companies like Tata, L&T and Vem-tech has boosted the synergy of government and private sector.
The manufacturing of Light Combat Aircraft by (HAL) Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, HAL will further push Atmanirbhar Bharat initiative and boost indigenisation of defence production and the defence industry in the country. Around 500 Indian companies, including MSMEs in the design and manufacturing sectors, will be working with HAL. The programme would transform the Indian aerospace manufacturing ecosystem into a vibrant Atmanirbhar-self-sustaining ecosystem.
It is the first Indian-Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured category procurement of combat aircraft with an indigenous content of 50% will progressively reach 60% by the end of the programme. The path for these 83 LCA Tejas would be similarly strewn with thorns, but the call for faith needs to be addressed to enjoy the fruits of labour grown in one’s backyard. The takeaway is tremendous when it adds up the advantage of future developments.
IAF was dealing with dwindling aircraft strength even as the threat of a two-front war hangs over its head. The sanctioned number of squadrons to enable the IAF to execute its responsibilities entrusted. With the 83 LCA Tejas new homegrown birds, with capability close to the imported ones, the boost to the IAF would be tremendous.
However, the deliveries are expected to start within a three-year time frame, which would undoubtedly be a Herculean task for the OEM. Still, they would certainly ease out a lot of IAF worries in terms of support and user-defined product specifications, considering the homegrown factor.
People there in the aviation sector would agree that this is one of the most efficient aerodynamic designs only to be let down by unsuitable, cannibalised engines. The Indian defence industries are fledgelings at the most compared to global giants, and they have remained so for a considerable amount of time.
This new-found enthusiasm for indigenous products would certainly give the industries the required impetus to compete globally. They demand hand-holding and support of the nation to grow & compete with the world.
Over the years, most of the shortcomings have been addressed. At places upgraded to global standards, some research towards improvement also laid the foundations of future indigenous technology. It was common to see HAL scientists and engineers rubbing shoulders, in the LCA Squadron, with the fighters jocks and refining the aircraft to the user’s needs. The result today, is a formidable world-class fighter produced to the IAF’s required and refined specifications.
Since independence, we have mostly looked beyond the borders for military equipment as quick-fix solutions; these have sometimes landed our forces in trouble, forcing them to resort to other unconventional methods of solution. When USSR broke the services faced an acute crunch of spares for Russian origin equipment, forcing them to suddenly try and manufacture some in house, or pay through their noses to have some foreign firm make them.
The self-sufficiency drive and thought kicking in envisage these situations won’t repeat in the future. At this point, the euphoria of optimism would even dare one to explore an export market for Indian defence produce, and of course, this dream has even started to fructify. The Indian government has cleared Rs. 48,000 crore deals for 83 LCA Tejas fighter. Slow but steady, India to compete with the world continues. Aatmnirbhar Sena is always with the government’s missions and plans concerning Atmanirbhar Bharat and will ready to be the helping hand in transforming the fortune of India in every possible way.