Big Boost to Indigenous Aircraft Manufacturing, Defence Ministry Issues Tender to Buy 97 Tejas Mk-1A Fighter Jets

Defence Industry

New Delhi: In order to boost Indian Air Force’s squadron strength, the defence ministry has issued a tender to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for procurement of 97 more light combat aircraft (LCA Mk-1A) Tejas. The fighter jets are expected to cost around Rs 65,000 crore.

Last year in November, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) had cleared the project to acquire 97 more Tejas jets for the Indian Air Force (IAF). The Defence Acquisition Council also approved a proposal of the IAF to upgrade its Su-30 fighter fleet by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL).

As a potent platform for air combat and offensive air support missions, the Tejas aircraft in its secondary roles can undertake reconnaissance and anti-ship operations. The clearance by the Defence Ministry to purchase more home-grown fighters will give a big boost to the indigenous aircraft manufacturing capabilities. The tender, issued last month, will equip the IAF with 180 home-grown fighters to replace the MiG variants like MiG-21, MiG-23 and MiG-27 that are on their last leg after decades of service.

According to industry sources, the HAL has been given three months to respond to the new tender. It is set to be the largest ever order for indigenous military hardware to be placed by the Indian government. The new LCA Mk1A jets is expected to have more than 65 percent indigenous content. The Defence Ministry has already placed an order for 83 Tejas Mk1A jets in Feb 2021 worth Rs 47,500 crore and the first aircraft is expected to be delivered within a few weeks.

In March 2024, the first Tejas LCA Mk1A (LA 5033) took to the skies in Bengaluru and flew for 18 minutes. The aircraft will have an advanced electronic RADAR, warfare suite, communication systems, additional combat capability and improved maintenance features. In a statement, the state-owned aircraft manufacturer had said that “the country could look forward to early induction of the Tejas Mk1A by the IAF and more numbers through the three lines of production established at HAL.”

After HAL completes the previous contract of delivering 83 similar aircraft, the delivery of the 97 combat jets will start. The features in these aircraft will be much more than what the first 40 Tejas LCA that the IAF has been flying. The Cabinet Committee on Security has also approved the design and development of a home-grown fifth generation fighter aircraft known as AMCA or Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft. Also in the works is a naval version of the LCA.