The Indian Air Force is set to acquire 83 single-engine HAL Tejas fighter jets which is being termed as the biggest deal in the indigenous defence aviation sector. The procurement of HAL Tejas fighter jets has been slashed from $8B to $5.5B, reports the Time of India.
The defence ministry and the Indian Air Force were reportedly appalled at the “exorbitant price” being demanded by HAL to produce the 83 Tejas Mark-1A jets along with the maintenance and infrastructure package. However, TOI in its reports says that after hard negotiations, the price was downed by Rs 17,000 crore, approximately $2.4B.
“With the contract price now settled at $5,5B the acquisition file is being sent to the Cabinet Committee on Security for the final approval. It should be cleared before this fiscal ends on March 31. Once the contract is inked, HAL promises to begin deliveries of the Mark-1A jets in three years,” Time of Indian quoted a source.
The aircraft (HAL Tejas) will have improved serviceability, faster weapon-loading time, enhanced survivability, a better electronic warfare suite and Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar that will significantly enhance its capability.
The Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC) had provided the Final Operational Clearance to the Tejas LCA earlier this year, certifying it as a multi-role fighter with capabilities including beyond visual range air-to-air and air-to-ground attack capabilities as well as longer endurance through mid-air refuelling.
India, at present, has a shortfall of around 10-12 squadrons of fighter jets in its inventory even as the first four of the 36 Rafale multi-role aircraft are scheduled to arrive into the country by May next year.
At the formal receiving ceremony of the first Rafale jet in France on Dussehra this year, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had said that the full consignment of 36 aircraft will arrive in India by the year 2022. “India will receive the first 18 Rafale jets by February 2021. By April-May 2022 we will receive all 36 jets,” Rajnath Singh had said.