Defense News Bureau, New Delhi: The union cabinet today approved the purchase of 73 Tejas LCA fighter jets and 10 trainer aircraft for a cost of ₹ 45,696 crores. In a statement issued this evening, the government said the 73 Tejas LCA fighter aircraft would become "a potent platform to meet the operational requirements of the Indian Air Force."
The decision was taken at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said. In a tweet, Mr. Singh said the deal will be a "game-changer" for self-reliance in defense manufacturing in India. The defense minister said Tejas will be the backbone of the fighter fleet of the Indian Air Force in years to come.
Here are 10 facts about the Tejas aircraft:
- The Tejas Mk-1A Light Combat Aircraft is an indigenously designed and manufactured fourth-generation fighter with critical operational capabilities that include an Active Electronically-Scanned Array (AESA) radar, an Electronic Warfare (EW) suite, and is capable of air-to-air refueling (AAR).
- It is India's first self-made fighter jet and received the final operational clearance for induction into the air force as a fully-weaponized fighter jet in February 2019.
- Tejas's final operational clearance or FOC aircraft has several additional capabilities compared to the initial active approval or IOC aircraft - the primary one being a more advanced missile capability with a significantly enhanced range.
- The indigenously-developed aircraft has been manufactured at the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and designed by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) for the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy.
- Tejas is a fully-weaponized light fighter with a single-engine.
- Although a lightweight aircraft with a short-range, Tejas aircraft can carry the same array of modern weapons that bigger warplanes have, from precision-guided and standoff weaponry to long-range 'beyond visual range' missiles that can take down enemy planes from a safe distance.
- Tejas has many advanced features like Beyond Visual Range Missile capabilities, Air-to-Air Refuelling, and Air-to-Ground weapons.
- The military aviation regulator had given the initial operational clearance or IOC to LCA Tejas in 2013 and inducted it into the Indian Air Force's 45 Squadron in July 2016 to prepare for combat readiness.
- In May last year, the Air Force operationalized its second squadron of homemade Tejas fighter jets, assigning them to its No 18 Squadron - the 'Flying Bullets' - based at Sulur near Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu. The squadron was equipped with fourth-generation Mk1 Tejas LCA aircraft.
- The naval variant of the Tejas, in the development stage, successfully performed "arrested landings" on the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya.