The finance wing of India’s Defence Ministry with the Indian Air Force negotiated with the government-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and got the price of the 83 Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) reduced by more than Rs 10,000 crores in New Delhi today, December 18.
Long Wait ::
The original price of the 83 Tejas Mark-1A was stipulated at Rs 50,035 crores. This deal was made final by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) in November 2016, when the biggest decision-making body in the Defence Ministry approved the IAF to purchase these aircraft at the original price.
Defence sources told ANI that: "The draft contract of the deal has been readied by the HAL and the cost of the deal has now come down to around Rs 40,000 crore. This is Rs 10,000 crore less than the Acceptance of Necessity given by the Defence Ministry in 2016.”
Negotiations for the procurement of the 83 LCA have been going on since 2017. The IAF had issued a single-vendor tender to the HAL for the same in 2017, but the deal hasn’t been closed due to issues over the price.
Crossed fingers ::
This is the biggest contract for HAL ever by the defence forces. The Defence Ministry is looking forward to closing the deal during the Defexpo-2019, which is to be held in Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s constituency, Lucknow, in February 2020.
The deal offered in the LCA Mark-1A had not been able to be sealed due to issues over the price. The former Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had formed a committee to investigate and negotiate into the matter. Numerous meetings have been held between HAL and the Defence Ministry’s finance wing since then, and the contract is now in the final stage, just waiting to be inked by the two parties.
Features of the LCA ::
The new LCA will have improved serviceability, faster weapon-loading time, enhanced survivability, a better electronic warfare suite and Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar that will enhance it’s capability significantly.
Tejas LCA had been cleared and provided the Final Operational Clearance (FOC) by the Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC) earlier this year in Bengaluru during Aero India. The CEMILAC had given a thumbs up to the aircraft’s capabilities including the ‘beyond visual range’ air-to-air and air-to-ground attack capabilities. The aircraft was also deemed to have longer endurance because it can refuel mid-air.
The IAF had inked a contract for 40 Tejas LCAs with the HAL previously. As many as 18 LCAs have been delivered to the IAF so far from the previous deal and a squadron has been formed in Tamil Nadu’s Sulur town. The 45 total squadrons have participated in various exercises and demonstrations to exhibit its capabilities to the world.
Critics say that the Indian Air Force should drop its plan to make more Tejas Mark-2s and focus on AMCA fighter jets. The Tejas AF Mark 2 MWF is an enhanced version of the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) and the purchase of these aircraft are called ‘a bad bet’. As published in a reputable news website, the fourth generation Medium Weight Fighter (MWF) is a bad bet as it will probably be ready by the end of next decade. China has already procured two fifth-generation fighter jets, which it can sell to Pakistan.
By: Republic World