India To Get More Fighter Jets As Defence Panel Clears Massive Deal

A major upgrade of the Sukhoi Su-30 MKI aircraft is also expected to be cleared.

New Delhi:

In a big boost for the military as well as defence production in India, the Defence Acquisition Council has cleared the procurement of 97 additional Tejas aircraft and 156 Prachand attack helicopters. Both aircraft are indigenously developed and the value of these deals is around Rs. 1.1 lakh crore. 

The Tejas Mark 1-A fighters are being acquired for the Indian Air Force and the choppers for the Air Force and the Army. The Council has also cleared additional deals and the total value is estimated to be around Rs 2 lakh crore. 

If this happens, it will be the largest order book that indigenous manufacturers have received in India’s history. What has been granted now, however, is an Acceptance of Necessity and contract negotiations will take place with manufacturers after that. This will take time, but the period may be far shorter than it would have been if foreign manufacturers were involved. 

Once a final price is negotiated, the last sign-off will be done by the Cabinet Committee on Security. The final induction into the military may take at least 10 years. 

A major upgrade of the Sukhoi Su-30 MKI aircraft is also expected to be cleared on Thursday. The IAF has over 260 Su-30 aircraft and the upgrade is expected to be an indigenous one, with India-developed radars, avionics and subsystems. 

The Tejas Mk-1A Light Combat Aircraft is an indigenously designed and manufactured fourth-generation fighter with critical operational capabilities that include an active electronically-scanned array radar, an electronic warfare suite, and is capable of air-to-air refuelling. It has been developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

It is India’s first self-made fighter jet and received the final operational clearance for induction into the Indian Air Force as a fully-weaponised fighter jet in February 2019.

The first batch of Prachand Light Combat Helicopters was inducted into the IAF and the Army last year. The 5.8-tonne twin-engine helicopter, also developed by HAL, has a service ceiling of around 21,000 feet and has been primarily designed for deployment in high-altitude regions, including Siachen and the higher reaches of Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh. 

The induction of more Prachand choppers will help diversify the IAF’s attack chopper fleet, which currently consists of the HAL Rudra, US-made Apaches and Russian Mi-35s.

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