The new order will come with homemade advanced avionics and radars.
To meet its depleting fighter squadron numbers, the Indian Air Force (IAF) is expected to place an order for additional 83 Light Combat Aircraft (LCA)-Mk1A aircraft. This will be in addition to the earlier 40 aircraft order placed with the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). This brings the total order to 123 LCA `Tejas’ indigenous fighters.
According to top officials the approval for the additional 83 was given in 2016 by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) and the request for proposal was issued by the IAF in 2017 and the proposal for which was submitted in March 2018 to IAF. The LCA-Mk1A is different than the earlier order of 40 aircraft. The new order will come with homemade advanced avionics and radars.
So far no contract for the additional 83 indigenous fighter planes has been inked due to the price quoted by HAL which was more than the price of the SU-30MKI.
However, according to officials, the pricing will be discussed with the costing committee and a contract will be signed soon. The total cost for the new order of 83 indigenous aircraft is expected to touch Rs 45, 000 crore and this is expected to give a boost to the Make in India initiative as well as create jobs in both the public and private sectors.
So far, HAL has two contracts with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for the supply of 20 aircraft for the Indian Air Force (IAF) in Initial Operation Clearance (IOC) configuration and another 20 aircraft in Final Operation Clearance (FOC) configuration.
Highly placed sources have confirmed that “Each contract delivery comprises of 16 fighters and four trainer aircraft. The state-owned company has completed production of all 16 fighters in IOC configuration with a significant improvement in Light Combat Aircraft `Tejas’ production rate during the last two years.”
Sources added that the company is undertaking the production of 16 `Tejas’ which is in FOC configuration. The clearance for the production of these was given in January this year. And for the remaining eight trainers (four in IOC and four in FOC) a provisional standard of preparation for production has recently been received and the work has just begun.”
To enhance the production rate, HAL has also outsourced major assembly modules to private partners like DTL, Bengaluru (Front fuselage), Alphatocol, Bengaluru (Rear Fuselage), VEM Technologies, Hyderabad (Center Fuselage) and L&T, Coimbatore (Wings). Additionally, a parallel production line is also established at Aircraft Division, Bangalore to support the increased rate of production.
As has been reported earlier, the company has received a Request for Information (RFI) for the supply of LCA-Tejas earlier this year from the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) and submitted the proposal to RMAF, Malaysia. Two Tejas aircraft had participated in LIMA 2019 for evaluation by RMAF. Further evaluation is being done at the prospective customer end with inputs from HAL as when called for.