The two long-standing deals for the Indian Air Force worth approximately Rs 50,000 crore are expected to get approval this year bringing in the 83 indigenous Tejas fighters and 56 medium-transport C-295 aircraft.
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The new Tejas aircraft contract worth over Rs 37,000 crores will mark the biggest-ever deal in the indigenous military sector, The Times of India (TOI) said in a report. It further revealed that the Tejas deal and Tata-Airbus joint venture may get the final approval from the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) to deliver 83 indigenous Tejas Mark 1A fighters and 56 twin-turboprop C-295 aircraft to the air force.
Delivery of the Tejas Mark 1As will start within three years of the contract being signed and will conclude with all aircraft delivered in five years.
The indigenous Tejas will have a bigger force multiplier effect on the Indian industry reeling under the impact of the lockdown and economic downturn owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. More importantly, it is a huge step towards creating a multi-tiered defense industrial ecosystem.
“A Rs 39,000 crore order will have a force multiplier effect of nearly seven or eight times on the economy–jobs will be created, work will be outsourced, there is going to be a tremendous downstream effect on Tier 2 and Tier 3 manufacturing in the high-tech defense aviation sector,” a Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) official earlier said.
Earlier, the price of 83 Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Mark 1A Tejas aircraft was pegged at around Rs 56,500 crore but the air force cut down on its demand list including spares, logistics support, and other issues. HAL slashing its profit of 12 percent to a little over 6 percent bought down the total price at Rs 39,000 crore.
Reportedly, the new order of Tejas fighters will have 43 improvements over the Mark 1A already ordered by the air force. While the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) is developing the Mark 2 fighter, HAL is building the Mark 1A, with ADA contributing its expertise in avionics, flight controls, aerodynamics, and structural analysis.
ADA chief Girish Deodhare described Tejas Mark 1A fighter as a bridge between the current Tejas Mark 1 and the Mark 2 fighter that the agency is developing. He says the latter will be, from the standpoint of size, sophistication, and capability, far superior to the Mark 1 fighter.
While the Mark 1A light fighter will have the same fuselage and General Electric (GE) F-404 engine as the Mark 1, the Mark 2 will be a significantly larger medium fighter with the more powerful GE F-414 engine.
The Tejas Mark 1A is touted as a game-changer bringing in the required strength to indigenous aircraft projects in the country.
The Tata Airbus C-295 aircraft will replace the Indian Air Force’s fleet of Avro-748 aircraft. Reportedly, the first 16 aircraft will be built by Airbus in their facility and the rest will be built in India under the joint venture through technology transfer from Airbus to Tata.
According to Group Captain Kishore Kumar Khera, a Research fellow at Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defense Studies and Analysis, the Transfer of technology for C295 will take place in three distinct phases. “In Phase I, the focus will be on the Indian partner’s ability to assemble the aircraft from fully/semi-knocked down kits.
In the next phase, technology and wherewithal transfer may generate the ability to manufacture low technology and low-cost components. In the final phase, most parts of the aircraft could be manufactured in India,” he wrote.
The two contracts are expected to give a boost to India which is involved in a fiery standoff with China in the east and frequent border firing with Pakistan in the north.