Recently, the government has given green signal for the manufacture of eighty-three homegrown Tejas Mk-1A Light Combat aircraft by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited whose worth is close to Rs. 60,000 crores. This would be amongst the largest ever deals the government has sanctioned for the domestic arms sector in recent times and will act as a huge boost for the government’s Make in India defense manufacturing program. It is also said to be the biggest confirmation for the Tejas fighter which has been in the process of development for more than three decades and entered Squadron Service with the Indian Air Force just last year.
As of now, the first Tejas squadron of the Indian Air Force is running five Tejasfighter jets known as IOC or the Initial Operating Capability configuration. This variant does not have the full-scale capabilities as expected by the Air Force. Another fifteen jets in this configuration are currently on the assembly line. An additional twenty jets are in FOC or Final Operating Configuration will be manufactured once the fighter jets completes a series of protracted trials that are now being undertaken.
The Air Force intends to acquire three specific advancements as compared to the jet presently being operated of the Mk-1A variant which will operate as the state of the art AESA or Active Electronically Scanned Phased Array radar and will be the heart of theTejas Mk-1 jet. It is likely be acquired from Elta of Israel or Thales of France which has improved electronic warfare capability including a jammer to confuse the radars of enemy jets.The two main competitors for this deal are Lockheed Martin of the US and Gripen International of Sweden who are are pitching their F-16 Block 70 and Gripen E/F fighters respectively. But, the government’s priority is Tejas as of now.