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India clears Rs 48,000 crore deal to purchase 83 Tejas fighters for IAF

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date
India clears Rs 48,000 crore deal to purchase 83 Tejas fighters for IAF

New Delhi: The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) on Wednesday cleared the biggest-ever deal in the indigenous military aviation sector by giving a green signal to the purchase of 83 Mark-1A Tejas fighters worth Rs 48,000 crore from defence PSU Hindustan Aeronautics.

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The delivery of these 83 fighters will begin three years after the actual contract is inked by early-February. and will have 43 “improvements” over the 40 Tejas Mark-1, which have already been ordered by the IAF.

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Confirming the deal, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said, “the CCS chaired by the PM today approved the largest indigenous defence procurement deal worth about Rs 48,000 crore to strengthen IAF’s fleet of homegrown fighter jet ‘LCA-Tejas’. This deal will be a game-changer for self-reliance in Indian defence manufacturing.”

“The Light Combat Aircraft-Tejas is going to be the backbone of the IAF fighter fleet in years to come. LCA-Tejas incorporates a large number of new technologies many of which were never attempted in India. The indigenous content of LCA-Tejas is 50% in Mk1A variant which will be enhanced to 60%,” he further added.

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“The HAL has already set-up second line manufacturing facilities at its Nasik and Bengaluru Divisions. Equipped with the augmented infrastructure the HAL will steer LCA-Mk1A production for timely deliveries to the IAF,” he continued.

As per latest speculations, the long-pending 83 Tejas deal was to be cleared by the CCS anytime soon.

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Meanwhile, IAF’s two Tejas squadrons, the ‘Flying Daggers’ and ‘Flying Bullets’ at Sulur, have till now inducted only around 20 of the original 40 Tejas Mark-1 fighters, which were all scheduled for delivery by December 2016 under two contracts worth INR 8,802 crore, inked earlier.

As per reports, the 83 Tejas Mark-1A fighters will have 43 “improvements” to improve maintainability, AESA (active electronically scanned array) radar to replace existing mechanically-steered radar, air-to-air re-fuelling, long-range beyond visual range (BVR) missiles and advanced electronic warfare to jam enemy radars and missiles.

Furthermore, besides these 123 fighters, IAF is also looking to induct 170 Tejas Mark-2 or the MWF (medium weight fighter) jets with more powerful engines and advanced avionics. However, IAF is banking upon the first 123 Tejas to add to its fighter squadrons, which is down to just 30 (each has 18 jets), whereas at least 42 are required for the requisite deterrence against Pakistan and China.

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