India paves way for Tejas Mk1A procurement

India’s Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) has finalised the procurement of 83 indigenously produced Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Tejas Mk1A light fighters.

The 83 aircraft – which will form the backbone of the Indian Air Force (IAF) Tejas fleet – will be in a more advanced configuration than the 40 examples of the Tejas Mk1 already on order with the country’s Department of Defence (DoD). 

In an announcement on March 18, the DoD said: “While orders for 40 Tejas aircraft had been placed with HAL in initial configurations, [the] DAC [has] paved the way for [the] procurement of 83 of the more advanced Mk1A version of the aircraft from HAL by finalising the [contract] and other issues.”

HAL Tejas [Indian Air Force] #1
A pair of HAL Tejas light fighters in flight. Indian Air Force

The Tejas is a defence programme which represents a ‘Make in India’ initiative, with the Light Combat Aircraft being indigenously designed and developed by the Aircraft Development Agency (ADA) under the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The aircraft itself is being produced by HAL supported by several other local aerospace companies.

The proposed order is expected to cost 390bn INR (US$5.2bn) and has now been placed for consideration by the Indian Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) before it can issue a formal contract.

According to AirForces Intelligence, as of March 20, the Indian Air Force operates 16 Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) configured Tejas under No 45 Squadron ‘Flying Daggers’ from Sulur Air Force Station (AFS) in the south of the country. In 2009, India placed an order for 16 single-seat and four two-seat Final Operational Clearance (FOC) series production aircraft, the first of which flew on March 16, 2020. These aircraft will be operated by No 18 Squadron ‘Flying Bullets’.