The Cabinet on Thursday gave a green signal to purchase of 73 Tejas LCA fighter jets and 10 trainer aircraft for a cost of ₹ 45.7 crore. This will be the biggest ever deal in indigenous military aviation sector. The fleet of new Tejas jets will be an improvised version of 40 Tejas Mark-1 ordered by Indian Air Force earlier.
The Tejas Mk-1A Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) is an indigenously designed and manufactured fighter which has operational capabilities that include an Active Electronically-Scanned Array (AESA) radar, an Electronic Warfare (EW) suite. It is also capable of air-to-air refuelling.
The government issued a statement regarding the approval of the fighter jets and said these would become a potent platform to meet the operational requirements of the Indian Air Force. Defence minister Rajnath Singh took to Twitter to inform about the deal and said it will be a game changer for self reliance in the Indian defence manufacturing. He said LCA Tejas will be be the backbone of Air force’s fighter fleet in upcoming years. He said the the fighter has a huge number of new technologies, which are being used in India for the first time. The Defence Minister said the indigenous content of LCA-Tejas is 50% in MK1 variant which will be enhanced to 60%.
The Cabinet has also approved infrastructure development by the IAF for the purpose of repair and servicing of the aircraft at duty stations. The government said the move will reduce turn-around time for mission critical systems and lead to increased availability of aircraft for operations.
Last year in May, the second squadron of indigenous Tejas fighter jets was operationalised by the Indian Air Force. These were assigned to No 18 squadron – the Flying bullets. The squadron was equipped with fourth generation Mk1 Tejas LCA aircraft.