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Make-in-India mega deal: 83 Tejas fighters cleared for Air Force

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Approving the largest indigenous defence procurement as part of measures to strengthen the armed forces amid a standoff with China on the Line of Actual Control and tensions with Pakistan over its terror infrastructure, the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) cleared Wednesday a deal worth nearly Rs 48,000 crore for the acquisition of 83 Tejas Light Combat Aircraft for the Indian Air Force.

Designed by the Aeronautical Development Agency under the Department of Defence Research and Development, the Tejas Mk-1A multirole light fighters will be manufactured by state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). It will be an improvement over the Mk-1 version. The IAF acquired 40 of the earlier variant in two deals — 20 were Initial Operational Clearance standard aircraft (16 fighters and four trainers) while the next 20 were Final Operational Clearance standard aircraft.

The Tejas Mk-1A order, cleared last March by the Defence Acquisition Council, was approved by the CCS at a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, in Twitter posts, described it as the “largest indigenous defence procurement deal” and said it “will be a game changer for self-reliance in the Indian defence manufacturing”.

He said “LCA-Tejas is going to be the backbone of the IAF fighter fleet in years to come” and it “incorporates a large number of new technologies, many of which were never attempted in India”. The indigenous content of the aircraft, he said, is 50 per cent and will be enhanced to 60 per cent.

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