|Representative Image: Honorable Defence Minister Rajnath Singh|
Defence minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday predicted that the deal to acquire 83 upgraded versions of the TEJAS fighter jets will be a “game-changer” for self-reliance in Indian defence manufacturing soon after the Cabinet Committee on Security approved the largest-ever indigenous defence procurement deal.
Confirming the CCS clearance for the deal, Singh said the homegrown fighter jet, TEJAS, will form the backbone of the IAF fighter fleet in years to come, and said the MK-1A version incorporates a large number of new technologies, many of which were never before attempted in India.
The MK-1A version of the jet will have 43 improvements over the initial version, including major improvements to enhance operational capability. These include easier maintenance, active electronically scanned array radar, electronic warfare suite and beyond-visual range missile capabilities, that will include the Indian made air-to-air missile Astra Mark-1. It will also have the ability to carry missiles for long range.
The minister said the TEJAS program would act as a “catalyst for transforming the Indian aerospace manufacturing ecosystem into a vibrant Atmanirbhar-self-sustaining ecosystem.” “The indigenous content of TEJAS is 50% in MK-1A variant which will be enhanced to 60%,” he tweeted.
Wednesday’s decision to purchase the 83 locally-made jets is in addition to an earlier deal to buy 40 combat aircraft. The jets are set to join the Indian Air Force fleet over the course of the next six to seven years.
Singh said that Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has already set-up a second line manufacturing facilities at its Nasik and Bangalore divisions, and expressed confidence that the jets will be delivered to the IAF in a timely manner.
“The decision taken today will considerably expand the current TEJAS ecosystem and help in creating new job opportunities. HAL follows a system integrator model in TEJAS MK-1A program and acts as an umbrella organisation, fostering manufacturing & design capabilities in private Industry,” Singh wrote on Twitter.