New Delhi: The Indian Air Force has ordered another 83 indigenous Tejas light combat aircraft by issuing a RFP (request for proposal) to defense PSU Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL).
The contract, which will be worth over Rs 50,000 crore, will be inked at a later stage.
The 83 Tejas Mark-1A jets are supposed to have 43 “improvements” to improve maintainability, AESA (active electronically scanned array) radar to replace the existing mechanically-steered radar, mid-air refueling capability, long-range BVR (beyond visual range) missiles and advanced electronic warfare to jam enemy radars and missiles.
According to official figures, 14 squadrons of the MiG 21, MiG 27 and MiG 29 are due for retirement in the next 10 years which will bring down the fighter squadron strength to 19 by 2027 from the current 33.
The strength may be further reduced to 16 by 2032.
The LCA programme was launched in the early eighties for two primary purposes. The principal and most obvious goal was the development of a replacement aircraft for India’s ageing MiG-21 fighters. The MiG-21 had been the mainstay of the Indian Air Force since the 1970s. The other main objective was to give an impetus for an across-the-board advancement of India’s domestic aviation capability.
Tejas is the second supersonic fighter developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) after the HAL HF-24 Marut. As of 2016 the Tejas MK1 is in production for the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the naval version is undergoing flight tests for Indian Navy (IN).
The projected requirement for the IAF is 200 single-seat fighters and 20 twin-seat trainers, while the IN expects to operate 40 single-seat fighters. The first Tejas IAF unit, No. 45 Squadron IAF Flying Daggers was formed on 1 July 2016 with two aircraft. Initially being stationed at Bangalore, the first squadron will be placed at its home base at Sulur, Tamil Nadu.