India To Get More Fighter Jets As Defence Panel Clears Massive Deal


New Delhi; NDTV reports: In a big boost for the military as well as defence production in India, the Defence Acquisition Council has cleared the procurement of 97 additional Tejas aircraft and 156 Prachand attack helicopters. Both aircraft are indigenously developed and the value of these deals is around ₹ 1.1 lakh crore.

The Tejas Mark 1-A fighters are being acquired for the Indian Air Force and the choppers for the Air Force and the Army. Additional deals, including for anti-ship missiles and towed gun systems, have also been approved, taking the total value to ₹ 2.23 lakh crore.

Rs 2.2 lakh crore, or 98% of the total amount, will be sourced from domestic industries. This will not only give a massive leg up to ‘aatmanirbharta’ in defence but also create jobs over the long run.

This is the largest order book that indigenous manufacturers have received in India’s history. What has been granted now, however, is an Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) and contract negotiations will take place with manufacturers after that. This will take time, but the period may be far shorter than it would have been if foreign manufacturers were involved.

Once a final price is negotiated, the last sign-off will be done by the Cabinet Committee on Security. The final induction into the military may take at least 10 years.

A major upgrade of the Sukhoi Su-30 MKI was also cleared by the council, under the chairmanship of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, on Thursday. The IAF has over 260 Su-30 aircraft and the upgrade is expected to be an indigenous one, with India-developed radars, avionics and subsystems. Around 84 aircraft are expected to be upgraded initially.

The Council also approved the replacement of the Indian field gun, which has completed its service life, with a state-of-the-art towed gun system. Towed gun systems are not only more mobile but also have longer barrels, and thus a longer firing range. The AoN was also accorded for the 155-mm Nubless projectile for use in artillery guns, which will enhance their safety and lethality.

To help maintain the combat edge of the Russian T-90 tanks, the Council gave its nod for procurement and integration of automatic target trackers and advanced computers for them.

For the Navy, procurement of medium-range anti-ship missiles has been cleared. These missiles are expected to be lightweight surface-to-surface projectiles which will be a primary offensive weapon on ships. All of these acquisitions will happen under the Buy (Indian-IDDM) category. IDDM stands for Indigenously Designed, Developed and Manufactured.

The procurement of two types of anti-tank munitions namely has also been cleared.

The Tejas Mk-1A Light Combat Aircraft is an indigenously designed and manufactured fourth-generation fighter with critical operational capabilities that include an active electronically-scanned array radar, an electronic warfare suite, and is capable of air-to-air refuelling. It has been developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

It is India’s first self-made fighter jet and received the final operational clearance for induction into the Indian Air Force as a fully-weaponised fighter jet in February 2019.

The first batch of Prachand Light Combat Helicopters was inducted into the IAF and the Army last year. The 5.8-tonne twin-engine helicopter, also developed by HAL, has a service ceiling of around 21,000 feet and has been primarily designed for deployment in high-altitude regions, including Siachen and the higher reaches of Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh.

The induction of more Prachand choppers will help diversify the IAF’s attack chopper fleet, which currently consists of the HAL Rudra, US-made Apaches and Russian Mi-35s.