Saab, the Swedish defence major, is in talks with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for helping India make the next generation version of the LCA Tejas. Talking about what Saab is offering, the defence major’s India head and Chairman Jan Widerström told FE Online, “We are in talks with HAL on various aspects with regards to the Tejas Mark 1A version.”
Widerström at an event on Saab’s ‘Make in India’ plans said, “HAL is now looking for sub-suppliers for major sub-systems like radar, EW (Electronic Warfare) system and stuff that would conclude the development of LCA MK 1A.” “We are in talks with HAL, we are offering the latest AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar to HAL for Tejas under the Make in India umbrella, meaning that we are willing to set up the production line and produce it here in India,” he added.
Saab plans to design, produce, support & innovate under PM Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative for defence. The Swedish defence major is offering to manufacture its latest Gripen E fighter aircraft under ‘Make in India’.
Asked about whether Saab’s talks with HAL will continue even if Gripen is not chosen by India, Widerström said, “We are offering to work with HAL on Tejas irrespective of whether Gripen deal happens or not.”
Last month, Widerström told FE Online, “HAL has sought responses on specific queries relating to the next generation of the Tejas, and our interactions revolve around deeper discussions for these systems. Our discussions are progressing very well so far.” “We have an excellent working relationship with HAL, which started with the IDAS Electronic Warfare suite that we provide for the Dhruv,” he adds.
The Tejas LCA is a supersonic, single-seat, single-engine multi-role light fighter aircraft, which has been under development for the past three decades. It has been co-developed by the Aeronautical Development Agency in cooperation with HAL to replace the IAF’s aging fleet of MiG-21 and MiG-23 aircraft.
Tejas is perhaps the world’s smallest lightweight, multi-role single engine tactical fighter aircraft. Tejas is equipped with a quadruplex digital fly-by-wire flight control system to ease handling by the pilot. It has intentionally been made longitudinally unstable to enhance manoeuvrability.
India needs about 300 aircraft of the LCA, therefore to speed up induction of the ‘Tejas’, the MoD has decided to upgrade the aircraft with over 40 modifications.
(With inputs from FE Bureau)