Last week, the Cabinet Committee on Security approved the procurement of 83 Light Combat Aircraft, named Tejas. These would be manufactured by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the Indian Air Force (IAF) at a cost of around ₹47,000 crore, which also includes infrastructure development costs. Of the 83, 73 would be Tejas Mk1-A fighter aircraft and the remaining 10 would be Tejas MK-1 trainer aircraft.
This deal has been hailed as a landmark event – in terms of achieving self-reliance in defence manufacturing, and also for addressing the longstanding problem of depleting squadron numbers. The deal also raises several questions: How indigenous really is the Tejas, given that key components are foreign-made? How soon can they realistically be inducted into the IAF?
How does this acquisition fit in with the IAF’s strategic requirements? To understand these and other aspects of this deal, we speak to Sushant Singh, Senior Fellow with the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi.