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Indian Air Force to receive first HAL LCA Mark1A fighters by March 31.

| Defense News Aerospace 2024

The acquisition is part of a significant agreement valued at Rs 48,000 crore between the Defence Ministry and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the purchase of 83 Tejas Mark 1A jets for the Air Force, as reported by Manjeet Negi in India Today. Efforts are underway to potentially include a trainer variant of the aircraft alongside the fighter version in the delivery, according to sources.
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Indian Air Force to receive first HAL LCA Mark1A fighters by March 31 Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd's Tejas Mark 1A represents a significant advancement in the field of indigenous fighter aircraft development within India, epitomizing the nation's growing prowess in the defense sector (Picture source: HAL/IAF)

The Tejas Mark 1A represents a significant advancement in the field of indigenous fighter aircraft development within India, epitomizing the nation's growing prowess in the defense sector. As a product of comprehensive research and development, the Tejas Mark 1A is an enhanced version of its predecessor, designed to meet the versatile and demanding requirements of modern aerial warfare.

The Tejas Mark 1A incorporates several improvements over the earlier versions of the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA). It has been meticulously designed to be lightweight and agile, with an emphasis on high performance and maneuverability. The aircraft's airframe is constructed using advanced composite materials, which contribute to its light weight and structural strength, enabling superior performance characteristics.

One of the hallmark features of the Tejas Mark 1A is its state-of-the-art avionics suite. The aircraft is equipped with an advanced Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, which significantly enhances its detection and engagement capabilities. The integration of modern avionics systems, including a digital flight control system, advanced communication suite, and electronic warfare systems, provides the Tejas Mark 1A with a cutting-edge operational edge. The aircraft also features an advanced targeting system, facilitating precision-guided munitions and beyond-visual-range (BVR) combat capabilities. This ensures that the Tejas Mark 1A can engage enemy targets effectively while minimizing exposure to threats.

Powered by a single-engine configuration, the Tejas Mark 1A utilizes a highly efficient and reliable turbofan engine, capable of delivering substantial thrust-to-weight ratios. This engine choice not only ensures exceptional speed and agility but also contributes to the aircraft's operational range and payload capacity. The aerodynamic design, combined with powerful propulsion, enables the Tejas Mark 1A to achieve superior performance metrics, including high rates of climb, a wide range of speed, and impressive agility in air-to-air and air-to-ground missions.

Indigenization and operational role

With over 65 percent of its components sourced indigenously, the Tejas Mark 1A is a testament to India's capabilities in developing and manufacturing key technologies within the defense sector. This high degree of indigenization supports the nation's strategic objectives of self-reliance in defense procurement and development.

Strategically, the Tejas Mark 1A is poised to play a pivotal role in enhancing the operational capabilities of the Indian Air Force (IAF). Its deployment, especially in strategically sensitive regions such as near the Pakistan border, underscores its importance in safeguarding national security. The aircraft's versatility makes it suitable for a variety of roles, from air superiority missions to ground attack, reconnaissance, and interception operations.

HAL, a government-owned entity, has received orders to produce 83 units of the aircraft, part of a broader requirement to manufacture 180 units. The Defence Acquisition Council has approved the procurement of 97 of these aircraft.

Under the leadership of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, the Defence Acquisition Council has also approved the upgrade program for the IAF's Su-30 fighter aircraft. It is understood that this project, along with other major procurement initiatives, is anticipated to cost the treasury approximately Rs 1.3 lakh crore.

The Tejas Mark 1A light combat fighter aircraft are to be stationed at the Nal airbase in Bikaner, Rajasthan, close to the border with Pakistan. The base will host the first squadron of these aircraft, strategically positioned to counter threats from the west.

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