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India showcases its LCA Tejas as Aero India 2021 gets underway
Bengaluru, February 3, 2021
India showcased the strike capabilities and maneuverability of its indigenous light combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas in front of an international audience at Aero India 2021, the 13th edition of the biennial air show, that got underway here under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic here today.
The fighter aircraft was flown by Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot Manish Tolani, who demonstrated its prowess and agility through breathtaking aerobatics, including rapid rolls, vertical Charlie, upside downn and angular flying display.
Tejas, designed and developed by the Bengaluru-based Aircraft Development Agency (ADA) of the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) and built by the public sector Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), is the world's only light combat aircraft.
On the occasion, a Rs 48,000 crore contract for 83 Tejas aircraft was handed over to HAL in the presence of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, who inaugurated the air show.
The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) had approved procurement of 73 LCA Tejas Mk-1A fighter aircraft and 10 LCA Tejas Mk-1 Trainer aircraft at a cost of Rs 45,696 crore along with Design & Development and Infrastructure sanctions worth Rs 1,202 crore on January 13, 2021.
This is the largest ever defence contract for indigenous manufacture till date and is expected to provide a great impetus to indigenous fighter aircraft capability of the nation.
According to an official press release, the deliveries of all 83 aircraft will be completed in eight years. HAL will deliver the first three aircraft in the third year and 16 aircraft per year for the subsequent five years.
Rajnath Singh had inaugurated HAL's second production facility (Plant II) here yesterday to augment the production capacity and ensure timely supply of aircraft to the IAF.
The release said the induction of Tejas Mk-1A in Indian Air Force will enhance its operational capabilities and improve the aircraft strength.
Light Combat Aircraft Mk-1A variant is an indigenously designed, developed and manufactured state-of-the-art modern 4+ generation fighter aircraft. This aircraft is equipped with critical operational capabilities of Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) Radar, Beyond Visual Range (BVR) Missile, Electronic Warfare (EW) Suite and Air to Air Refuelling (AAR) would be a potent platform to meet the operational requirements of Indian Air Force.
It is the first “Buy (Indian-Indigenously Designed Developed and Manufactured)” category procurement of combat aircrafts with an indigenous content of 50% which will progressively reach 60% by the end of the programme and about 250 out of 344 systems fitted in the aircraft will be indigenous.
About 500 Indian companies including MSMEs in the design and manufacturing sectors will be working with HAL in this procurement. Some of these companies have displayed their systems at Aero India 2021.
"Today, the nation is self-reliant in most of the Military Fighter Aircraft Contemporary technologies and this has been possible largely due to Tejas Programme. The programme would act as a catalyst for transforming the Indian aerospace manufacturing ecosystem into a vibrant Aatmanirbhar-self-sustaining ecosystem," the release added.
The IAF has already inducted the LCA-1 in its fighter fleet squadron at its Sulur air base in Tamil Nadu's Coimbatore.
The latest order is in addition to the 40 LCA-Mark-1 that the IAF ordered in 2016 for settinng up two squadrons. HAL has delivered 20 of them and is in the processing of delivering the remaining aircraft.
Other military aircraft that flew at the inaugural event of the air show included Rafale fighters of the French aerospace major Dassault, Sukhoi-30 MKi, Jaguar, advanced jet trainer Hawk and HAL-made helicopters such as ALH (Advanced Light Helicopter), Light Combat Helicopter and Light Utility Helicopter.
The highlight of the two-hour long opening show was the dazzling aerobatics by Surya Kiran Hawks and 4 Sarang ALHs Dhruv of the IAF.
The US B1-Bomber also flew along with LCA at the opening event.
The maiden joint aerobatics by Surya Kirans and Sarang choppers at different altitudes were the highlight of the show.
Both the aerobatic teams flew in heart formation with their trail smoke on a bright sunny day.
Dornier 228, Hindustan Turbo Trainer (HTT)-40 and LUH and ALH Mk III of the HAL were at the static display.
(With inputs from IANS)