Cabinet accords sanction for Manufacturing 83 TEJAS MK-1A Fighter Jets
Dated : 14 Jan 2021 (IST)
The Cabinet has finally cleared the manufacturing of 83 indigenous TEJAS MK1A, the next version of the Light Combat Aircraft for the air force. This will not only make IAF more stronger but also give a big boost to the domestic aviation industry, with hundreds of vendors expected to get orders under the Make in India program.
The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) headed by PM Narendra Modi gave a final go ahead to the project that has been under process, with the first of the MK1A version of the jets expected to join service before March 2024.
Shri Rajnath Singh, Raksha Mantri said that the CCS approved the largest indigenous defence manufacturing project worth about 48000 Crores to strengthen IAF’s fighter fleet. This deal will be a game changer for self reliance in the Indian defence manufacturing. The TEJAS fighters will not only become the workhorse of the Air Force in coming years but would also provide new job opportunities. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will place orders on industry for sub assemblies after providing the know how. It will will foster the private sector.
The order comes as a major boost to the IAF and for HAL as well. IAF had been insisting on all the improvements now done on MK1, without these improvements fully done, it had just refused to accept the next lot of these Jets. This is the main reason why orders were pending for the last two years. The next steps required is to develop indigenous replacements for the engines, avionics and radars of these jets that are still dependent on foreign sources.
The MK-1A Jets will have 43 improvements over the initial version, including major improvements to enhance operational capability. These include easier maintenance, active electronically scanned array radar, electronic warfare suite and beyond-visual range missile capabilities, that will include the Indian made air-to-air missile Astra Mark-1. It will also have the ability to carry missiles for long range.
As per HAL Officials the first MK1A to roll out will have well over 50 percent indigenous content, which would increase to over 75 percent till the 83rd jet is manufactured. This percentage is by market value. Once the Uttam Radar gets the clearance then only major foreign item left will be the engine comprising 15% of the fighters content by value.
Efforts were on to come up with an indigenous fighter jet engine in the form of KAVERI – a major foreign dependency component – but the project could not materialize in time. Own Indian engine is only likely to come into place for the advanced multirole combat aircraft (AMCA).
The MK1 A fighters will add to the 40 that have entered / entering service. The first squadron of home grown fighters has already clocked more than 2500 glich free flying hours and the s3cond squadron is already forming up. The new MK1A jets will be significantly more capable that the first batch of 40 MK1. These will have an enhanced radar, an electronic countermeasures suite and the capability to launch a variety of beyond visual range weapons.
The state owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) plans to outsource a significant part of contract to the private sector as it wants to double its annual production capability to meet the requirements of the air force, as well as the upcoming order for over 200 more TEJAS MK2 jets.
Significant amount of manufacturing will go to private sector companies like with HAL outsourcing of at least 35 percent of the work order.
Singh said that Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has already set-up a second line manufacturing facilities at its Nasik and Bangalore divisions, and expressed confidence that the jets will be delivered to the IAF in a timely manner.