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IAF to buy 83 more Tejas fighters from HAL instead of foreign jets, CDS Rawat says

The induction of Tejas will help India emerge as a key defence exporter due to its ‘relatively low price’, Rawat says.

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New Delhi: India plans to switch to locally-made fighter jets, two years after asking global companies to submit proposals to supply 114 combat aircraft in the world’s biggest warplane contract.

The country’s air force is finalizing plans to induct indigenously made Light Combat Aircraft, Tejas to boost the capability of its aging combat aircraft fleet, Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat said in an interview in New Delhi. It will buy an additional 83 jets, apart from an earlier deal for 40 aircraft, for $6 billion, he said.

“The Indian Air Force is switching that to the LCA,” Rawat said, when asked about the global tender for jets. “The IAF is saying, I would rather take the indigenous fighter, it is good.”

The decision is a set back for the likes of Boeing Co., Lockheed Martin Corp. and Saab AB who were in the race for the $15 billion order and another sign that India is abandoning costly foreign defense purchases which have been plagued by bureaucratic delays and a funding crunch. Prime Minister Narendra Modi this week stressed the need to buy locally made products to boost an economy battered by the Covid-19 outbreak.

“Since it has been decided to go the indigenous route, the Ministry of Defence must ensure ramping up” capacity at Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd., the builder of the jet, said Manmohan Bahadur, additional director general at the New Delhi-based Centre for Airpower Studies. “The IAF, like the other services, has to maintain the required edge over our adversaries — emotions have to be eschewed.”

The induction of jets will help India emerge as a key defense exporter due to its “relatively low price,” Rawat said in his office in New Delhi. Several countries may be interested in purchasing the aircraft once they see them in operation with the airforce.

The process to buy fighter jets started more than a decade ago. India scrapped a long-awaited order with Dassault Aviation for 126 Rafales worth $11 billion in 2015, but has since bought 36 of the planes to speed replacement of older aircraft.

In April 2018, India floated a global tender seeking responses from global manufacturers to purchase 114 jets. The deal attracted initial offers from global giants like Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Sweden’s Saab AB and the Russian-made Sukhoi Su-30Mki and Su-35. At least 85% of production was to be in India, according to the initial document.

While New Delhi is the world’s third-biggest military spender, its air force, navy and the army are still equipped with weapons that are largely obsolete.

Local Production

The move to indigenous fighters marks a shift to start using locally made weaponry, Rawat said. The defense forces will be using a lot more domestically produced goods, and there is an understanding there may be some quality issues in the beginning, but these will be improved, he said.

“The artillery guns, air defense systems and radars will all be indigenous systems as well. We are doing well with artillery guns and in air defense systems,” he added. “We are also looking at ammunition manufacturing in our country in a very big way.”

Modi had made clear his intention of reducing India’s dependence on foreign made weapons platforms soon after taking over as leader in 2014 but the progress hasn’t been remarkable.

India desperately needs new aircraft to replace aging Soviet-era jets. It needs about 42 squadrons of fighters to defend its western and northern borders simultaneously but is making do with about 31 squadrons only. By 2022, it is likely to add on two more squadrons of the Rafale fighter.

While the IAF is backing the indigenous fighter program, there are several glitches, including faster delivery schedules and quality issues that still need to be ironed out. As per plans, the 123 Tejas fighters are to be followed by the Mark-II variant which are medium weight fighters. The test flight for the next generation Tejas aircraft is likely in 2022.

U.S., China and India were the world’s three biggest military spenders in 2019, followed by Russia and Saudi Arabia. The two Asian countries made it to the top three for the first time according to a recent report of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. For the fiscal 2020-21 India has earmarked $ 66.9 billion for defense but budget cuts are imminent because of CoVID-19 pandemic. – Bloomberg

Also read: India’s oldest flying aircraft in spotlight after radar website shows it going to Pakistan


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  1. Indian think tank is doing its duty . How come so many comments against the Tejas.Does it mean our defence projects are open and any one can see through it.May be there is jealousy on the capabilities of indians .Further the foreign stakeholders are worried to lose business.

  2. Proud to be part of ‘make in India’ and ‘made by India’ but eventually India needs very fast ambitious plans to spend more on modernisation of it’s Tejas fighter planes either by purchasing the technical knowledge from outside the world and also from Indian private players,

  3. Tejas is still upgrading but it’s not on par to go against America’s F-16 and china’s J-20, so they should not scrap MMCA deal of 114 fighter jets because it also includes transfer of technology….. Which will help in making indigenous engine and also will help in India’s 5th generation aircraft AMCA.

  4. Our army is best thinkers if they found it that tejas is not good then they will immediate cancel orders and if they have place orders then definitely there must be something good in tejas mk 2 so pls have fainth in our army
    Besides buying of 114 jet fighters orders ant cancel yet totally

  5. To go indigenous is good idea , but Tejas do not have that qualitative edge , in comparison with Pak F 16s and Chinese Sukhois and JF series, our Airforce requires state of the art technology . In the event of war these politicians and bureaucrats do not die , so they are least concern, they can carry their whims and fancies, it is the solider who suffer.

  6. Good Decision!
    India cannot afford a new tender, red tape delays all over again. Go with Tejas for the time being, buy few more squadrons of Rafale as soon as possible. Operationalize BMD systems in various parts of the country. Let work on Tejas mark 2 start immediately while giving sub contracts to private sector.

  7. they were already buying 40 tejas n 83 tejas 1A. Is this another additional 83 or r u just telling about confirmation of orders for 83 originally planned n confusing everyone in the process?

  8. Indian defence deals have marred by either exaggerated allotment or scanty funds . Neighboring country’s blostering there defence ammunition with state of the art weapons and missiles ,while India have become paper tiger ,only making then and now by assulting feeble , rusted Muslim country,at least now India should wake up when it’s coffers are full to stand neck to neck with its foes and friends by upgrading weaponry systems,only relaying on infantry and poor missile system doesn’t work.God bless India.

  9. Buying and spending on indigenous commodities is a good thing. But in this case, India could be making a grave mistake by going for the Tejas. Will the Tejas be able to take on the modern Chinese jet fighters? Also, will it be able to take on US fighters operated by Pakistan? The people making the decision to induct the Tejas into the IAF should atleast consider these factors beforehand. Or are they contemplating to operate the Tejas in large numbers and hope to win the combat air battle on sheer numbers. For India, this will prove to be like taking on an enemy armed with AKs/Tavor/M4 etc. using an enfield .303/.315 rifle. I sincerely hope that they will review their decision.

  10. While the decision to go in for Tejas is laudable, HAL’s production rate of 16 aircraft per year is ridiculous. The private sector has to be roped in to manufacture the various components with HAL probably doing only the final assembly. Without doubt there will be glitches but this is true of other nations too.
    Due attention needs to be given to the development of an appropriate engine for the future variants of Tejas with the Kaveri being more or less a failure.

  11. I think it’s a strategic blunder to scrap proposal of buying foreign jets. Development of indian jets is equally important, nevertheless, till indian gets are “combat proven”, imported state of the arts jets must be inducted asap. India will have to pay a big prize if it doesn’t happen!

  12. Why post a photograph of a simulated carrier deck take of when she is incapable of operating of a carrier with full payload .
    This aircraft is an imitation of a 4 + generation aircraft and does not have durability to last very long . Furtermore . Her maintenance needs and down time vs flying hours is dismal more than double any other equivalent western fighter in the same category incuding the F16 .


  13. This is going to cost India a fortune. The sole purpose for buying a foreign fighters is due to a proven reliability track record. If the Tejas proves to be unreliable it will not only cost the Indian taxpayer ,but it will be a useless platform in war.

    Your aircraft carrier is one such example of a deep black hole where endless amounts of money will be lost.

  14. Self reliant is good so is indeginous, but why an out date aircraft is getting inducted, frankly its not necessary that people sitting at made this right decision, a 35 Yr old aircraft getti g 8nducted, Rafale is super aircraft, way better than eurofighter and way better than Russian inventory, its the only aircraft to lock American f22 6 timEs in mock docg fight, British fighter pilot and ace aerobat late Mr. Collins said that in real war he love to be Rafale cockpit rather than against it, it flies mach 1.5 supercruise.

  15. They are using upgraded tejas not the old tejas and tejas is not failed project and the tejas is still upgrading

  16. IAF is already flying with Indian tea loving pilots and now induction of Teeja (like Army’s Arjund) may Bhagwan have mercy .


  17. Not a good decision at all for the sake of country. Yes, you should power your home plant but, not by compromising on your east and west boundaries. IAF should built their sqadrons with couple of elite fighter jets like RAFALE, TYPHOON, F 16/18, GRIPEN , HORNET. then and only then should concentrate on HAL’s TEJAS.

  18. Even if the Indian jets are not quite as good, if they are able to buy many more of them at a cheaper price it could still be to their advantage.
    In world war 2 the United States had Sherman tanks which were inferior to the German panzer tanks. But we had many more of our little Sherman tanks than the German’s. So we were able to defeat them.
    So if India can buy many more of the domestic fighter jets then it could still work very well for them.
    I hope you all are successful with your domestic fighter jet program. Hopefully you can keep improving them over time.

  19. What a waste of money and a failure in prioritising. India has 2m on less than £1 a day, no proper health service, no universal education. It does have a space programme and huge military spending tho.

  20. Very good step towards make in India. Start from one end to get finish touch. Congratulations to government for taking good decisions.

  21. Why the change now? If India’s fighter requirement could have been filled with Tejas then why the Air force had issued tender in April 2018 to procure foreign aircraft from the Likes of Sukhoi, Boeing and SAAB? What are the technological leaps that Tejas project has taken that now it can compete and beat the best fighters in the world?
    I support buying ‘Made in India ‘ but in case of fighter aircraft which provides backbone of India’s security, performance should be prioritized over everything else. If Tejas can out perform all other aircraft then India should buy Tejas .I do not want security to be compromised for the sake of ‘Made in India’ tag. I have found that People who always go ‘GA-GA’ over ‘Made in India’ usually drive around in BMW, Mercedes, Toyota, Porsche and Range Rovers , not in a Mahindra .

    • Brilliant comment. I concur. Rafale was the best choice. We are 24 squadrons short which need to be replaced by 2030 asap. TEJAS can be one of the squadrons but we need at least 10 squadrons of Rafale jets to counter immediate threat for our affable neighbours. We only have 15 squadrons of SU 30 vs 76 f 16 jest and 108 jf17 jets in Pakistan plus direct threat from China which has a 1000 fighter jets approx.

    • Well said sir. with all the “make in India” hype, people seem to forget to ask the real questions, Is Tejas competent enough to go against modern state of the art fighters? If Tejas is fills the requirements then why all the hungama about mmrca deal?

    • Very true, but alongwith there is another hard reality that unless you not insist on having only indian made aircraft and other weapons, the military sees the easy option of choosing foreign made weapons as a short term strategy. This ultimately results into big corruption scandals where the top echelons of even military is involved. Also the products that we get are most of the times substandard and highly priced, which results into loss of life of our brave soldiers who are at the front taking bullet on their chest. Also we loose taxpayers money on overpriced products which ultimately does not save lives which we yearn for.

      So it’s better to work on Make in India as this will ultimately see the light of the day, as we can see that LCA Tejas, Arjun MBT, LCH Dhruv may not be the best in the world and have many imported parts as well, but we have started working in its manufacturing and in years to come we shall have the best iteration of its kind which shall beat the world’s best.

  22. This is the way to unlike Congress whose members pocketed huge money.Make in India plus buy local will go long ways to increase employment and keep foreign exchanged to lower limits.Rawat is very sensible and as chief of all units he can direct them this way.JAI HIND

  23. Not a wise decision vis-a-vis their global positioning. The present days tactical war/s can’t be won solely on the basis of the such an ideology.

  24. India should spend atleast 7-15 billion dollars on research and development of indigenous 5th gen aircraft, aircraft carriers, submarines and ground level next generation laser/heat inhibited warfare for the army. Also liberal amount be sanctioned for reasearch in viral infections and set up of disaster management schedules across the state to independently handle the situation

  25. Indigenisation makes sense if you have the technology. Even in Tejas only certain percentage of components are homegrown and given the pathetic execution of HAL and DRDO 85 percent manufacturing of foreign fighters was much better.

  26. How come induction of Tejas in Indian Air Force will help India to emerge as a major defence exporter ?

  27. Tejas is totally failed product and IAF Pilots has been tested and rejected ,Thy are the flying coffin like Mig 21 but made in India ,this project does not improve the capability rather to increase kickback for someone.

  28. How is this being reported as a “move” to indigenous production?

    The order for 83 Tejas was in the pipeline for a long time. It was in addition to the requirement of 114 fighters for which there were discussions with foreign vendors. This means close to 200 fighters were in the pipeline.

    Unless GOI expands the order beyond this lot of 83 we are in fact taking the situation backwards and leaving a vulnerability to the tune of 114 fighters. There seems to be unnecessary gloss being put on this decision to take attention away from this yawning gap that is emerging in defences preparedness as aging Migs are retired.

    It is well known that there is a long gestation period in inducting new fighter aircraft. First the inordinately long time for tender and evaluation process followed by the production time for the successful tenderer. Without additional Tejas being ordered over and above the 83 being discussed, we are going to leave a big gap in our defences preparedness for quite a long time to come

  29. Within same govt where is commercial transactions involved. The term buying does not apply at all. Just book transfer after approvals. Why complications

  30. Shekhar Gupta and the coterie singing peans for the foreign dallals that fund them, inorder to downplay indian Innovation. Usual suspects and usual tricks.

    Shame on you the print, but you are predicatble in following the traditions from the days of the article ” Kalam’s banana republic” . Pathetic


  32. I hope the decision is not based on HAL had no other order, no occupation. It is a challenging moment to prove YOU CAN. Cheers.

  33. Hope they fly, India does not stick out as a country of quality, “halta hai ” attitude prevails above 100 % reliability. Sorry lads, it hurts, but u have homework to do.

  34. Man behind the Machine (Sward/ Gun) is important
    Man behind the Machine (Sward/ Gun) is very important / valuable, should be brave/ courageous, prepare to face of death. Forces (Sena) cadets should be brave/ courageous, prepare to face of death. Sikh community is in minority but their presence is in leading Role
    in forces and other are just for fill of blanks.(Pigs & Rats are mush more than Lion/ Tigers)

  35. Total nautanki by Ranga & Billa. Just ri fool the ppl of India. Before HAL was a unfit, bad company. Now same company is good ?

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