India has cleared a deal to manufacture 83 of the home developed Light Combat Aircraft (TEJAS MK-1A) for the air force, in a big boost to the domestic aviation industry, with hundreds of vendors expected to get orders under the Make in India program.
The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) headed by PM Narendra Modi gave a final go ahead to the project that has been under process, with the first of the potent version of the jets expected to join service by 2024.
“The CCS chaired by PM today approved the largest indigenous defence procurement deal worth about 48000 Crores to strengthen IAF’s fleet of homegrown fighter jet ‘TEJAS’. This deal will be a game changer for self reliance in the Indian defence manufacturing,” Defence Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted on Wednesday evening.
The minister said that the TEJAS fighters will be the backbone of the Air Force in coming years and would new job opportunities as primary vendor Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will act as a umbrella organisation that will foster the private sector.
The order comes as a major boost for HAL as well, which had been working on securing the order for the past two years. The next steps will be to order the engines, avionics and radars for the fighter jets that are still dependent on foreign sources.
Officials told ET that the first fighter to roll out will have well over 50 percent indigenous content, which would increase to over 65 percent till the 83rd jet is manufactured. Efforts are on to come up with an indigenous fighter jet engine – a major foreign dependency component – but the national project is only likely to come into place for the advanced multirole combat aircraft (AMCA).
The fighters will be manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and will add to the 40 that are already on order, with the first squadron of home grown fighters already in place. The new jets will be significantly more capable that the first batch ordered and will have an enhanced radar, an electronic countermeasures suite and the capability to launch a variety of beyond visual range weapons. The order has given a boost to HAL, whose order book will cross Rs 1 lakh crore once the contract is inked with the air force.
The state owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) plans to outsource a significant part of contract to the private sector as it wants to double its annual production capability to meet the requirements of the air force, as well as the upcoming order for 200 more jets.
Significant amount of manufacturing will go to private sector companies like Larsen and Toubro Dynamatics, VEM Technologies and Alpha Design, with HAL outsourcing of at least 35 percent of the work order.