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Govt to Buy Tejas Fighters for Rs 48,000 Crore

The cabinet committee on security (CCS) on Wednesday cleared the Rs 48,000 crore purchase of 83 light combat aircraft (LCA-Tejas) from state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), in the biggest contract awarded to India’s homegrown military aviation industry.
The approval by the CCS, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, comes 10 months after the defence acquisition council in March 2020 greenlighted the procurement of 83 of the more advanced Mark 1A version of the LCA.
According to the plan, HAL is to deliver 73 fighters and 10 trainers by 2026. The LCA-Tejas Mark 1A will have more than 40 “improvements” over an initial order of 40 LCA-Tejas aircraft ordered by IAF in a deal worth almost Rs 9,000 crore in 2016. The latest aircraft is categorized as a fourth-generation plus fighter jet, a defence ministry statement said.“About 500 Indian companies, including MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) in the design and manufacturing sectors, will be working with HAL in this procurement. The program would act as a catalyst for transforming the Indian aerospace manufacturing ecosystem into a vibrant Atmanirbhar—self-sustaining—ecosystem,” the statement said. The IAF currently has two Tejas squadrons—the Flying Daggers and Flying Bullets—at Sulur in Tamil Nadu. It is looking to the Tejas to add to its dwindling squadron strength, which is currently at 30 squadrons as opposed to a sanctioned 42 required to fight a two-front war with Pakistan and China. The IAF also plans to order 170 more Tejas Mark-2 aircraft with more powerful engines and improved avionics in the future.
Defence minister Rajnath Singh hailed the move as a “game-changer” for India’s defence manufacturing which has been trying to shake off the image of being seen as lacking the capability to cater to the country’s defence needs. India was the world’s second-largest importer of major arms in 2014-18, accounting for 9.5% of the global total, according to a Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) report published in 2019. Last year, Modi, while addressing the 11th Defence Expo in Lucknow, set the domestic industry a target of $5 billion in defence exports in five years.

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