The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Wednesday approved the purchase of 73 Tejas LCA (Light Combat Aircraft) fighter jets and 10 trainer aircraft for a cost of around Rs 45,700 crore.
The Tejas Mk-1A LCA is an indigenously designed and manufactured fourth-generation fighter with critical operational capabilities that include an Active Electronically-Scanned Array (AESA) radar, an Electronic Warfare (EW) suite, and is capable of air-to-air refueling (AAR).
"The LCA Tejas is going to be the backbone of the IAF fighter fleet in (the) years to come. LCA-Tejas incorporates a large number of new technologies, many of which were never attempted in India," Defence Minister Rajnath Singh tweeted, adding that the deal was a "game-changer for self-reliance in the Indian defence manufacturing (sector)".
The LCA-Tejas is going to be the backbone of the IAF fighter fleet in years to come. LCA-Tejas incorporates a large number of new technologies many of which were never attempted in India. The indigenous content of LCA-Tejas is 50% in Mk1A variant which will be enhanced to 60%.— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) January 13, 2021
Mr Singh said the deal would also "considerably expand the current LCA ecosystem and help in creating new job opportunities", as well as changing the Indian aerospace manufacturing sector.
"The LCA-Tejas programme would act as a catalyst for transforming the Indian aerospace manufacturing ecosystem into a vibrant Atmanirbhar-self-sustaining ecosystem," he wrote.
The LCA-Tejas programme would act as a catalyst for transforming the Indian aerospace manufacturing ecosystem into a vibrant Atmanirbhar-self-sustaining ecosystem. I thank the Prime Minister Shri @narendramodi for this historic decision taken by the CCS today.— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) January 13, 2021
In a statement issued Wednesday evening the government said the 73 Tejas LCA fighter aircraft would become "a potent platform to meet the operational requirements of the Indian Air Force".
"It is the first 'BUY (Indian-Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured)' category procurement of combat aircraft (with an indigenous content of 50 per cent that will reach 60 per cent by the end of the programme)," the government statement said.
At today's meeting the cabinet also approved infrastructure development to enable repair or servicing of the aircraft at duty stations. This will reduce turnaround time for mission-critical systems and lead to increased availability of aircraft for operations, the government said.
In May last year the Air Force operationalised its second squadron of home-made Tejas fighter jets, assigning them to its No 18 Squadron - the 'Flying Bullets' - based at Sulur near Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu. The squadron was equipped with the fourth-generation Tejas Mk-1A LCA aircraft.
The first squadron to get the home-made jets was the No 45 based in Coimbatore.
With input from PTI