Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 20
The Indian Air Force has formally asked the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to submit its proposal for making 83 additional Tejas fighter jets.
Of these, 73 will be the upgraded version called the ‘Mark-1A’ and 10 will be the trainer version – a twin seat version– that will be as per specifications allowed in the variant okayed for existing final operational clearance (FOC). The HAL will submit its proposal within 90 days that is by March next year. HAL is already making 40 Tejas jets as per the FOC standards set by the IAF.
At present pace, the Mark 1-A can first be ready for first flight by 2019.
The Tribune had first reported on November 14 how the Ministry of Defence (MoD) was clearing the hurdles to the project and was more interested in ‘Make in India’ project of the light combat aircraft, Tejas.
On November 7 last year, the Defence Acquisition Council, chaired by then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, approved the procurement of 83 planes of the ‘Mark1-A’ version. But a formal order is yet to be placed. It was almost two years ago, in December 2015, that the IAF indicated the requirement of 100 Tejas LCA MK 1-A aircraft, for which a formal order is yet to be placed. The plan of manufacturing and completion is from 2018 to 2022-23.
The seeking of proposal from HAL, an MoD owned public sector undertaking, is the first step towards getting these jets.
There are 123 Tejas jets – in two variants — that the MoD is looking at. Forty planes of the base version have been ordered and are under production. The Mark 1-A version will have 43 upgrades over the base version.
The IAF wants AESA radar in place of the manually scanned Israeli Elta radar. Besides it wants a ‘self-protection jammer’, fitted with external re-fuelling capability.
Besides, the MoD has Rs 1,331-crore plan to double the existing eight planes per annum capacity of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.
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