IAF asks HAL for 83 more upgraded Tejas fighter jets

New Delhi: The Indian Air Force (IAF) has put in a formal request to the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for an additional 83 Tejas Mark-1A Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), an official said on Wednesday.

He said the Request For Proposal (RFP) for the supply of 83 indigenous LCAs had been received by the HAL. It includes 73 Mark-1A upgraded versions, and 10 trainer versions of the LCA.

The HAL will respond to the RFP in three months.

An AON (Acceptance of Necessity) for 83 Mark-1A LCAs at a cost of Rs 50,025 crore for the IAF was cleared by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) in November 2016.

The Mark-1A version of Tejas will have additional improvements over the earlier model, and is set to have mid-air refueling, updated internal Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) and an AESA radar.

At present, two contracts have been signed between IAF and HAL for the LCA — one for the procurement of 20 Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) standard aircraft and another for 20 Final Operational Clearance (FOC) standard aircraft.

Of the total 20 IOC aircraft, including 16 fighters and four trainers, five fighters have been delivered by to the IAF till date. The production of remaining 15 IOC aircraft is underway at the HAL.

Production for 20 FOC aircraft will be taken up after FOC clearance by the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), and is likely to start by 2019-20.

In a written reply in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre said that for ramping up production capacity of HAL from existing eight aircraft to 16 aircraft per year, the government has sanctioned Rs 1,381.04 crore in March for establishing a second line for structural and equipping activities at HAL’s Aircraft Division.

The Minister said that other steps undertaken to increase production includes reduction in manufacturing cycle time through improved supply-chain management, learning about and augmentation of manpower, and established contracts for outsourcing of major modules like fuselage, wing and various sub-assemblies to private partners.