Defence secretary Ajay Kumar on Sunday (January 12) said the central government will be acquiring around 200 aircraft, including 83 HAL-manufactured Tejas Mark 1A advanced fighter jets, to cope with the depleting aerial inventories of the Indian Air Force.
The contract for HAL-manufactured 83 LCA Tejas Mark 1A advanced fighter jets are in the final stages, he said. Apart from these, Expression of Interest (EOI) has been floated for another 110 aircraft, based on which Request for Proposal (RFP) will be floated, Kumar said.
“We are in the process of finalising the contract for 83 Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Mark 1A, which are advanced fighters to meet the urgent needs of India,” the defence secretary told reporters on the sidelines of commissioning Indian Coast Guard vessels here.
“Roughly (for) 200 aircrafts, the acquisition is in process,” he said. Kumar said that the contract for the LCAs will be signed “definitely this year”. “We want to do it as soon as possible,” the defence secretary said when asked whether a time frame has been finalised by which the new aircraft are to be acquired.
Kumar said that with the design having been finalised, state-run aerospace behemoth Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will be ramping up production of the LCA Mark 1A jets from eight to 16 per year. “If required, through outsourcing, we can further enhance it,” he said.
The Indian Air Force has Sukhoi 30 MKIs, Mirage 2000s, Mig 29s and the ageing Jaguars and Mig 21 Bisons in its inventory of fighter jets at present. The last fleet of seven swing-wing MiG-27 fighters, which played an important role during the 1999 Kargil war, was decommissioned on December 27.
(With inputs from agencies)