In the biggest-ever deal in the indigenous military aviation, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) on Wednesday cleared the proposal to buy 83 Tejas Mark 1A fighter jets from defence PSU Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The Indian Airforce (IAF) will be acquiring these jets for a whopping Rs 48,000 crore. These 83 fighters will have 43 'improvements' over the 40 Tejas Mark-1 that has been already ordered by the IAF. The deliveries of these advanced aircraft will begin three years after the actual contract, which is likely to be signed next month.

Mark-1A Tejas fighters
Tejas fightersCredit:Twitter (Group Captain Gunasekhar)

The IAF had requested 43 "improvements" in the Tejas Mark 1A over the Mark 1 and after the upgrades, the aircraft would be loaded with improved serviceability, faster weapon-loading time, enhanced survivability, a better electronic warfare suite and Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar.

Taking on to Twitter, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said, "The CCS chaired by PM Sh. @narendramodi today approved the largest indigenous defence procurement deal worth about 48000 Crores to strengthen IAF's fleet of homegrown fighter jet 'LCA-Tejas'. This deal will be a game-changer for self-reliance in the Indian defence manufacturing."

Defence Minister on Twitter

He further added, "The Light Combat Aircraft-Tejas is going to be the backbone of the IAF fighter fleet in years to come. LCA-Tejas incorporates a large number of new technologies many of which were never attempted in India. The indigenous content of LCA-Tejas is 50% in Mk1A variant which will be enhanced to 60%," he added.

HAL Tejas
Ingeniously made Light Combat Aircraft, TejasYoutube/ LCA Tejas

Tejas: India's desi fighter

In order to replace its ageing MiG-21 fighters the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme started in the 1980s, the project got delayed multiple times and eventually, an earlier version of Tejas was inducted in IAF in 2016. Until now only around 20 of the original 40 Tejas Mark-1 fighters have been inducted by the IAF's two Tejas squadrons, the "Flying Daggers" and "Flying Bullets" at Sulur, which were all scheduled for delivery by December 2016 under two contracts worth Rs 8,802 crore signed earlier.