On the eve of 75 years of India’s Independence Day celebrations, three indigenous platforms for the Indian Air Force were flown by Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari.
The chief who is in Bengaluru on a two-day visit on Saturday morning flew Hindustan Turbo Trainer-40 (HTT-40), Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) and the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) `Tejas’.
The HTT-40 Trainer is soon going to be inducted into the IAF, followed by the LCH later this month. The LCA too is getting ready to be added to the fighters’ fleet of IAF.
The Chief, according to the IAF is in Bengaluru and at the end of flying the three platforms, he interacted with the designers and test crew at state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) to understand the current status and future plans.
He also delivered the Air Chief Marshal LM Katre Memorial Lecture where serving, and retired IAF officers as well as HAL officers and stakeholders from the aerospace industry were all present. The focus of his lecture was on Capability and Force Development Plans of IAF in its journey towards being a future ready combat force.
Light Combat Aircraft
In 2021, the government has already put its stamp of approval on a Rs 48,000 cr deal to procure 83 Tejas fighter jets from HAL. This is perhaps one of the biggest defence contracts under the `Make in India’ initiative.
This aircraft is a single engine and highly agile multi-role supersonic fighter aircraft. It has the capability to operate in different terrains as well as extreme air environments.
As has been reported by Financial Express Online earlier, the deal inked with HAL is for 73 Tejas Mk-IA variants and 10 LCA Tejas and this will help in giving a boost to the combat prowess of IAF. The delivery of these aircraft is expected to begin in 2024. And the HAL officials have said that the plan is to roll out 16 aircraft each year till the delivery of 83 is completed.
On the completion of the IAF order, HAL is already getting ready to export its first LCA to one of the Asean member nations – Malaysia.
The facility where these aircraft will be built is already getting ready on 35 acres of land and on completion will help HAL in enhancing its production capacity from 8 to 16 every year. Financial Express Online has reported that the production of the 83 aircraft will be done on two production lines and there are more than 500 production partners involved.
Indigenous Fighter aircraft
Will come equipped with an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) Radar, Air to Air Refuelling (AAR) capability, Beyond Visual Range (BVR) Missiles, and Electronic Warfare (EW) Suite. These will make the indigenous fighter jet a potent platform and will meet the immediate operational requirements of IAF.
Currently, the aircraft has 50 percent indigenous content and by the time the deliveries are made the content will go up. Critical items including Quartz Nose Cone (Radome) and the Air-to-Air Refueling probe for the Full Operational Capability Configuration comes from the British Aerospace Manufacturing company Cobham. The fleet has the MK.16 IN16G Zero/Zero ejection seat from the world’s top most manufacturer Martin Baker based in the UK. The aircraft will be powered by the GE engines.
Light Combat Helicopter
Earlier this year in March the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) approved procurement of 15 LCHs. The approval has been given for Limited Series Production (LSP) at the cost of Rs 3,887 crore and Infrastructure sanctions worth Rs 377 crore.
Financial Express Online has reported earlier that 10 LCHs are for the IAF and the balance five are for the Indian Army. Together the two services have a requirement of around 160 LCH. A senior officer had earlier said that the IAF will get 65 LCH and the rest will be for the Indian Army. Later this month Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to induct the indigenous helicopter in IAF.
These helicopters have the capability to operate at high altitude and difficult terrains and are suitable to meet the requirements of both IAF and the army.
Following the Galwan Valley clash in eastern Ladakh, in August 2020, HAL had stationed two LCH at the disposal of the IAF and these played a very critical role along the Line of Actual Control. The IAF personnel have already undergone training at the Helicopter Division which is located in Bengaluru. These helicopters are equipped for high-altitude performance, have extended range, all weather combat capability, maneuverability, and more. There is state-of-the-art technologies and equipment on board.
HTT-40 Basic Trainer
Another indigenous platform from HAL is ready for the IAF which is expected to procure initially 70 trainers. It will be powered by Honeywell engines and has almost 60 percent indigenous content. The first 70 trainers are to be built in Bengaluru and then moved to Nasik for the series production.