It was a huge day in the history of Indian Aerospace, when in a landmark decision, Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) on January 13, 2021, approved the procurement of 83 indigenous Light Combat Air Craft (LCA) `Tejas’ from state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the Indian Air Force (IAF). The total deal is for nearly 48,000 Cr, and is expected to benefit around 500 Indian defence manufacturing companies in the private sector as well.
According to a former aviator, “The LCA Tejas Mk-1A, 73 of which are to be procured by the IAF (not inclusive of the 10 trainers) is a 4+ generation, state-of-the-art fighter aircraft. The real reason to cheer, however, for the long run, is the fact that the aircraft has been designed, developed and manufactured indigenously.” a former aviator says.
View of an Aviator
Sharing his views with Financial Express Online, Wing Commander Abhishek Matiman (Retd) says, “Down to 30 Combat Aircraft Squadrons against the 42 sanctioned decades back, Indian Air Force (IAF) has long been reeling under pressure to deliver optimally, despite being stretched beyond limits. That, it took the recent faceoff with the Chinese, leading to prospects of a two-front challenge staring us in the face, to eventually, get things moving at the long-awaited ‘desired pace’ – speaks volumes of the perennial inertia that plagues our system, when it comes to matters Military.”
“The CCS’ approval for procurement of 83 LCA Tejas aircraft indeed comes as a shot in the arm. Not one to be misconstrued as an antidote for the current imbroglio, it does augur well for the future nevertheless. Most certainly so, if this were to mark the beginning of ‘strategic vision’, with the most elusive – ‘continuity of focus and effort’ to accompany, in the years to follow,” Wing Commander Matiman says.
“With operational capabilities that enable it to hold its own against most it’s likely to be pitted against, the Tejas Mark-1A expectedly would do well to keep the widening asymmetry in terms of sheer numbers, under check.”
What is on board the indigenous fighter?
“It is equipped with an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) Radar, Beyond Visual Range (BVR) Missiles, Electronic Warfare (EW) Suite and Air to Air Refuelling (AAR) capability, the aircraft promises to be a potent platform to meet the IAF’s immediate operational needs,” he explains.
“The aircraft currently has an indigenous content of 50 per % which is slated to reach 60% by the end of the programme. The associated infrastructure development by IAF is expected to enhance serviceability rates and ensure increased aircraft availability for operational use. Efficient fleet sustenance, owing to better availability of spares and repair infra is likely to be a major take away from the project.”
“With close to 500 Indian companies joining hands with HAL, the programme is sure to give a major boost to domestic aerospace manufacturing ecosystem. The framework developed during, and the synergy achieved by the end, of this programme, would undoubtedly hold the Nation in good stead when working on complex futuristic technologies in gen-next. Sticking to delivery schedules and maintaining timelines shall, however, hold the key as 5th generation contemporaries proliferate the neighbourhood,” the former aviator concludes.
(The former aviator is on Twitter: WingcoMats@MightyWingss.)