HAL given contract to fabricate 83 Tejas fighter jets

Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

Bengaluru, February 3

Indian public sector giant Hindustan Aeronautics Limited on Wednesday was given the contract to manufacture 83 Tejas Mark 1A fighter jets.

The contract was handed over by the officials of the Ministry of  Defence to HAL Chairman and Managing Director R Madhavan at the opening ceremony of the Aero India 2021 here.

The HAL CMD told media on Tuesday night that the first LCA Tejas Mark 1A would be supplied by February 2024. The MoD has set a target of making 83 planes over the next six years from the delivery of the first plane, that is, by February 2030.  “The plane will form the backbone of the fighter fleet of the IAF,” he added.

The contract is for Rs 48,000 crore. The jets will be in two variants – 73 of these will be ‘Tejas Mk-1A’ configuration  while 10 jets will be the Tejas Mk-1 configuration, used as a ‘trainer aircraft’.

As of now, only 50 per cent of jet is made in India while the engine and the latest radar – called AESA – come from the US and Israel, respectively. Currently, the aircraft has around 344 systems fitted in it and 210 systems are indigenous and 134 of them are imported. By the time the first aircraft gets produced by HAL, it is targeted that the imported systems will be reduced to approximately 80.

On Tuesday, a new manufacturing facility for Tejas was opened at Bengaluru by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh  and it is expected to double the production rate from the present eight planes per year to 16.

HAL has created the facilities to house the additional production line of LCA. The facility spread across 35 acres has a built-up area of 34,893 sq mt. The Phase 1 of the facility is ready and is spread across 24,077 sq mt. Specialised facilities and hangars for structural assembly of aircraft are being created and  simulation software packages have been added.

Partnership has been forged with Indian private players to manufacture aircraft fuselage and wings. Some of the major companies contributing in the LCA programme from private sector are VEM technologies, L&T,  Alpha Toccol, Dynamatic Technologies Ltd and TAML.

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