By N. C. Bipindra
Bengaluru: Another good news awaits the local aerospace and defence industry in the form of a $6.5-billion contract signing for 83 Tejas aircraft on day one of the biennial AeroIndia 2021 show tomorrow.
This was announced by the Ministry of Defence today, a day after the Narendra Modi government presented during budget 2021-22 that India would spend an additional $3 billion on defence preparedness, to beat the military challenge from nuclear-armed neighbours China and Pakistan.
At a ‘curtain raiser’ press conference addressed by Rajnath Singh later, it was announced that the ambitious ₹48,000-crore ($6.5 billion) contract for 73 Tejas Mk1A variants of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) designed combat aircraft and 10 of its Mk1 trainer aircraft will be signed on the opening day of AeroIndia 2021.
The Indian Air Force is expected to get delivery of all the 83 aircraft by 2028. “All 83 Tejas aircraft will be provided in nine years with the first one coming in 36 months,” HAL Chairman and Managing Director R. Madhavan told the press conference in the presence of Karnataka Chief Minister B. S. Yeddyurappa.
It was also informed at the curtain raiser that a Request for Quotation (RFQ) for HTT-40 Basic Trainer Aircraft, designed and developed through internal funds by HAL, was expected to be issued to the defence public sector undertaking by the defence ministry during the course of the three-day biennial event. The RFQ is currently being vetted.
Earlier in the day, after launching the LCA manufacturing facility that will help in increasing the production capacity from eight aircraft to 16 aircraft annually, Rajnath Singh said the Tejas would be the backbone of the IAF fighters fleet in the years to come.
“HAL’s new LCA facility is example of how ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat‘ is shaping and HAL deserves the largest indigenous order of 83 LCA Mk-IA,” the defence minister said.
“The LCA is pride of India and sends the right message to others that India can make fighters of this class in-house. The fighter is superior in many ways when compared to others fighters in its category besides being cost effective. I compliment HAL for working through the COVID times and bringing out this facility.”
The company, he said, has a lot of talent and more orders should come in its way in the future. “We cannot depend on others on security issues and therefore will make HAL stronger, whatever it takes.”
Madhavan said the Phase-1 of the facility, getting ready on 35 acres of land, will enable HAL to enhance its production capacity to 16 from the current eight aircraft a year.
The new LCA compales will have state-of-the-art machines such as CNC profilers and five-axis machining centres for producing technologically challenging, high pressure fluid cell press machine, test rigs, specialised facilities for heat treatment, special processes and hangars for structural assembly of aircraft.
Production tooling and productivity improvement initiatives have also been undertaken by adopting latest simulation software packages under capacity augmentation. Subsequently, in this facility, structural assemblies of LCA Mk1A will be produced to meet the desired delivery rate, confirming to the contract for delivery of these combat jets.