Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is enhancing its capacities to make improved versions of light combat aircraft (LCA), also known as Tejas, according to a top company official. The Centre had issued a request for proposal (RFP) for 83 LCA in December, setting the ball rolling for finalising the contract for the deal worth about ₹50,000 crore. In addition to the 83 Mk-1A to be ordered, there are 40 aircraft of earlier variants on order.
“We are enhancing our facilities to build 16 Tejas a year from eight now. All the Tejas [units] will be delivered in the next five years,” C.V. Ramana Rao, director (finance) and CFO, HAL. However, while the current production rate is eight aircraft per year, only six aircraft have been delivered to the IAF in the last two years, sources said. HAL is building the improved version of Tejas after getting feedback from the Indian Air Force. “The improvised version of Tejas would have an advanced active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar system, a new electronic warfare sensor suite and a new external refuelling capability,” according to Mr M. Mazhar Ali, executive director in-charge of planning and projects, HAL. The final contract for the procurement of 83 LCA is expected to be signed soon, according to sources. To take advantage of the government’s UDAN or regional connectivity scheme, HAL was in negotiations with airlines to sell the civilian version of Dornier 228 transport aircraft, the sources added.