India orders for 83 HAL Tejas indigenous fighter jets
The Indian Ministry of Defense announced on January 13, 2020, the approval of a contract to acquire 83 new HAL Tejas aircraft. It includes 73 Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas MK-1A multirole fighters, and 10 LCA Tejas Mk-1 trainers.
The ministry also approved a maintenance component attached to the acquisition contract, thus enabling the Indian Air Force (IAF) to develop maintenance infrastructure on the bases that will host the Tejas. The contract is estimated to be worth around $5 billion (Rs. 45,696 core). The fighter is currently produced by the state-owned manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) at a low output of four aircraft per year.
The Tejas is defined by its manufacturer as a light fighter of 4+ Generation. It is equipped with an AESA radar, BVR (beyond visual range) missiles, and an electronic warfare suite. It can also be refueled mid-air, expanding its operating range. Its purpose within the IAF is to replace the antique MiG-21. On March 18, 2020, the Ministry’s Defence Acquisition Council had approved the budget for an order of the single-seat combat aircraft "made in India".
The Indian Navy eventually hopes to replace its MiG-29 fighters with a variant of the Tejas, still under development, which could operate from the INS Vikramaditya (ex-Kyiv class) aircraft carrier, and the locally-built INS Vikrant, to be delivered by 2021
On September 10, 2020, the India Air Force officially inducted the Dassault Rafale. 36 of the French-made fighters had been ordered in 2016. They are to be deployed at Ambala Air Force Base near the Pakistani border, and in the Ladakh region, where a Sino-Indian border dispute has taken place.
India is still holding an MRCA (multi-role combat aircraft) competition to pick a new backbone aircraft for the air force fighter fleet. The program evaluates the Eurofighter Typhoon, the Dassault Rafale, the Lockheed Martin F-21 (a tailor-made version of the F-16), the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and F-15EX, the SAAB Gripen, the Mikoyan MiG-35, and the Sukhoi Su-35.
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