India to Sign Two Major Military Aircraft Deals Worth More Than Rs 50 Billion Soon | India News
The order of more than Rs 37 billion for 83 Tejas Mark-1A aircraft from defense PSU Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd will be the largest deal in the local military aviation sector. These 83 fighters, whose deliveries will begin three years after the contract is signed, will have 43 “upgrades” over the 40 Mark-1 Texas already ordered by the IAF.
The Tata-Airbus project to build 56 twin-turboprop C-295 aircraft, which will replace the IAF’s former Avro-748 aircraft, will in turn be the first time that an Indian private sector company will enter the defense aerospace field.
While Airbus will supply the first 16 aircraft in two years after the contract is signed, the remaining 40 will be built thereafter in India within eight years, on the project which was initially valued at Rs 11,929 crore.
Both projects have been submitted to the Cabinet Security Committee (CCS) for final approval. “The Texas contract will be the first to be approved by the CCS. It is likely to be inked in early February. The C-295 project will then follow, with the participation of Tata as the Indian production agency, ”an official said Tuesday.
The total cost of acquiring the 83 single-engine Tejas fighters and their support package has been reduced from the Rs 56,500 crore required by HAL after lengthy negotiations, as reported by TOI last year.
The IAF’s two Texas squadrons, the “Flying Daggers” and “Flying Bullets” at Sulur, have so far only installed about 20 of the original 40 Texas Mark-1 fighters, which were scheduled to be delivered in December 2016 under two contracts worth Rs 8,802 crore inked before.
The 83 Texas Mark-1A fighters will have 43 “upgrades” to improve ease of maintenance, AESA (Electronically Scanned Active Array) radar to replace existing mechanically directed radar, air-to-air refueling, long-range BVR missiles (beyond range visual) and advanced electronic warfare to block enemy radars and missiles.
After these 123 fighters, the IAF is also looking to add 170 Tejas Mark-2 or MWF (medium-weight fighter) aircraft with more powerful engines and advanced avionics. But the IAF is confident the first 123 Texas will join its fighter squadrons, which have been reduced to just 30 (each has 18 aircraft) when at least 42 are required for the necessary deterrence against Pakistan and China.
The C-295 project, which has been pending for almost a decade, is intended to replace the old Avro aircraft, first installed in the early 1960s, as well as to take on some “chores” of the aging AN- fleet. 32, which has witnessed two major accidents in which 42 servicemen were killed in the Bay of Bengal in July 2016 and Arunachal Pradesh in June 2019, as previously reported by TOI. The C-295 jet may even find some buyers in the civil aviation market, officials say.