Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) that is developing India’s first indigenously-built light combat aircraft, Tejas is pitted to pioneer the success of Make In India initiative.
Speaking at the Kannada Naada Habba event in the Bengaluru headquarters of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), the Defence Minister Rajnath Singh announced the annual exports of Indian defense will be expected to touch Rs 35,000 crore by the year 2024 which is currently at Rs 17,000 crore.
Addressing the employees of HAL, Rajnath Singh that with the strength of HAL, India could well be a defense exporter country one day. With private companies making an entry as competitors in the defense sector, he underlined the importance of public sector units like the HAL in the competitive building of defense weapons.
In September 2019, Singh had mentioned the interests of several southeast Asian countries in purchasing India’s first indigenously-built light combat aircraft, Tejas. Tejas is being built by HAL along with DRDO.
Designed for the Indian Air Force and the Indian Navy and built by India’s Aeronautical Development Agency and the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, Tejas is a delta-wing, single-engine multirole light combat fighter. A program that began in the 1980s, Light Combat Aircraft program, was aimed at replacing the Indian Air Force’s aging MiG-21 fighters and was eventually named Tejas in 2003.
The development of a total of 324 Tejas aircraft of several variants in underway. The first batch of 40 Mark 1 aircraft, 16 FOC standard, and 16 IOC standard is expected to commence soon. HAL had further announced that Mark 1 will be offered to the price-sensitive market of Southeast Asia and Mark 1A to countries where technology dictates the decision-making.
Another variant of Tejas, the Supersonic Omni Role Trainer Aircraft (SPORT) is also in the pipeline of HAL’s plan. The development of the SPORT will be subjected to government funding which, if successful, will become a great export potential from Southeastern Asian countries looking for advanced light attack aircraft.
Stressing on the role of HAL in making the Make in India initiative a success, Rajnath Singh heaped praise on the improvement in operation finance of HAL whose turnover as of March 2019 has been Rs 19,705 crore giving a healthy dividend of 198 percent to its shareholders. Rajnath Singh also hoped that the public sector units like the HAL would also pioneer in manufacturing civil aircraft in the country.