Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) has been awarded an INR₹457bn (US$6.4bn) contract by the Indian government to manufacture and deliver 83 Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) for the Indian Air Force.
After gaining approval from the Indian government last month, the contract was officially handed over to HAL on February 3 – during the opening day of the Aero India trade show and exhibition, held at Yelahanka Air Force Station in Bengaluru. Under the terms of the deal, the firm will produce and deliver 73 examples of the indigenously-developed, single-seat Tejas Mk.1A fighter, as well as ten two-seat Tejas Mk.1 trainer aircraft. The contract also includes funds for the design and development of new infrastructure related to the Tejas acquisition.
A press release from the Indian government’s Press Information Bureau (PIB) highlighted that all 83 aircraft will be delivered to the Indian Air Force by February 2029. It added that the first three aircraft will be handed over to the air arm in 2024 and that 16 examples will be delivered each subsequent year until the order is complete.
The contract award comes a day after India’s Defence Minister, Shri Rajnath Singh, inaugurated HAL’s second Tejas production facility. Dubbed ‘Plant II’, it will be used to support the manufacture and delivery of the 83 aircraft that have since been officially ordered for the Indian Air Force, as well as supporting the production of any potential export aircraft.
This latest order is the first of the Indian Ministry of Defence’s ‘Buy (Indian-Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured)’ initiative. The project seeks to procure combat aircraft that feature 50% worth of domestically-developed content. The ministry anticipates that this percentage will progressively reach 60% by the end of the Tejas programme, with approximately 250 of the 344 systems fitted in the aircraft being produced indigenously.
The PIB describes the Tejas Mk.1A LCA as a “state-of-the-art modern 4+ generation fighter aircraft” that will be equipped with a number of “critical operational capabilities.” Powered by a single GE Aviation F404 afterburning turbofan engine, the platform will feature Elta Systems’ EL/M-2052 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, as well as an electronic warfare suite. It will also have an air-to-air refuelling capability and can be equipped with beyond-visual range (BVR) missiles, as well as a variety of other munitions.