Just in the recent past, the government has signed a deal with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for an additional 83 Light Combat Aircraft, Tejas, at a whopping Rs 48000 crores, bringing the cost of each piece to approx 600 crores. This is in addition to the 40 + LCA Mark 1 aircraft that the IAF presently operates. The new ones contracted are the Mark 1 A version, essentially an upgrade of the existing ones.
What does it mean for the IAF?
Over the years the IAF has been dealing with dwindling aircraft strength even as the threat of a two front war hangs over its head. The sanctioned 40+ number of squadrons to enable the IAF to execute its responsibilities entrusted, is a far cry today with the number of squadron falling short, continues to be in double figures.
The recent infusion of two squadrons of Rafale, directly off the shelf, from France has flowered an optimism amongst the populace, albeit with the pessimist objecting to the meagre quantity. With the 83 new homegrown birds, with capability close to the imported ones, the boost to the IAF arsenal would be tremendous.
The deliveries are expected to start within a three year time frame which, no doubt would be a Herculean task for the OEM, but would certainly ease out a lot of IAF worries in terms of support and user defined product specifications, considering the homegrown factor.
What does the nation gain?
It seems aeons back when India was standing in a similar crossroad and had at that point of time opted for the HF Marut to boost IAF’s combat capability. People in the aviation sector would agree that this was one of the most efficient aerodynamic design only to be let down by unsuitable, cannibalised engines.
In the absence of faith, trust and proper policies, not only did the fighter development program die its own death but pushed along with it the DPSUs’ at least a few decades behind.
The Indian defence production industries are fledgelings at the most when compared to global giants and they have remained so for a considerable amount of time