The Mk-1 A variant of the LCA Tejas is an indigenous state-of-the-art modern 4+ generation fighter aircraft

In a major development, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday cleared the procurement of 83 Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas from Bengaluru-based Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL). The deal includes 73 LCA Tejas Mk-1A fighters and 10 LCA Tejas Mk-1 trainer aircraft.

Described as India’s largest indigenous defence procurement deal, it is worth Rs 45,696 crore. An additional Rs 1,202 crore has been sanctioned for design and development of infrastructure for the aircraft.

The LCA Tejas is a multi-role fighter with advanced avionics, glass cockpit, and a digital quadruplex fly-by-wire control system.

The Mk-1 A variant of the LCA Tejas 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 Radar, Beyond Visual Range Missile, Electronic Warfare Suite and Air to Air Refuelling (AAR), the Ministry of Defence said in a statement after the cabinet decision.

This is the first “Buy (Indian-Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured)” category procurement of combat aircrafts with an indigenous content of 50% which will progressively reach 60%.

LCA-Tejas is going to be the backbone of the Indian Air Force’s Fighter Fleet, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted. Expressing pride in India’s technological capacities, he mentioned that the LCA-Tejas incorporates new technologies that were never attempted in India.

The manufacturing of LCA by HAL is part of the Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) initiative of the government and a boost to the indigenisation of defence production and the defence industry in the country.

According to the Defence Minister, the cabinet decision will considerably expand the current LCA ecosystem and help in creating new job opportunities. “HAL follows a system integrator model in LCA Mk1A program and acts as an umbrella organisation, fostering manufacturing & design capabilities in pvt. Industry,” he said.

The HAL has already set up second line manufacturing facilities at its Nasik and Bengaluru divisions. About 500 Indian companies including MSMEs in the design and manufacturing sectors will be working with HAL in this process.

The programme would act as a catalyst for transforming the Indian aerospace manufacturing ecosystem into a vibrant Atmanirbhar-self-sustaining ecosystem.

The Cabinet also approved infrastructure development by the IAF to enable them to handle repairs or servicing at their base depot. This would ensure reduction in the turnaround time for mission critical systems and would lead to increased availability of aircraft for operational exploitation.

According to the defence ministry, this would enable IAF to sustain the fleet more efficiently and effectively due to availability of repair infrastructure at respective bases.

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) described the government’s decision as an important stepping stone for Indian defence scientists and the country’s aerospace industry.