Bengaluru: The Indian Air Force has appointed an integrated project monitoring team headed by its deputy chief to ensure that Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) sticks to the timelines for delivery of newly contracted Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas, a senior Defence Ministry official said at the Aero India show Thursday.
A biannual review by all stakeholders has also been planned to undertake course corrections needed to enable HAL to deliver the rated production, the official said, as the IAF focuses on timely delivery of the 83 Tejas aircraft, a contract that was inked for Rs 48,000 crore Wednesday.
“Right from the contract signing, an integrated project monitoring team headed by the deputy chief of air staff will closely monitor the implementation of the contract. Biannual review by all stakeholders is planned to undertake course corrections needed to enable HAL to deliver the rated production,” V.L. Kantha Rao, director general (acquisition) in the Defence Ministry said.
ThePrint had reported that the IAF was focusing on ensuring timely delivery of the aircraft as they are critical to the force.
The aircraft are meant to replace the ageing MiG 21 Bisons which will be phased out by 2025. The IAF is also keen that the timelines for Tejas Mk 2 and Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) are met.
According to the contract, the first Tejas Mk 1A is to be delivered within three years of signing the deal, by 3 February 2024. All the deliveries are to be completed over a period of nine years, including the three years prior to the delivery of the first aircraft.
To ensure that the aircraft are delivered on time, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated a second assembly line for Tejas Tuesday, which will increase the production capacity to 16 aircraft per year from the present eight.
LCH contract to be signed by March
Rao also said that the contract for 15 indigenous Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) is set to be awarded by March this year.
“The procurement of 15 LCH is underway. The negotiations have been completed and the contract is expected to be concluded by March,” he said.
The 15 LCH includes 10 for the IAF and five for the army. The IAF and the army together require about 160 LCHs, a source said.
Incidentally, at least three twin-engine LCH have already been deployed in the Ladakh sector amid stand-off with China.
Rao also said that Acceptance of Necessity (AON) for HTT-40, a basic trainer aircraft manufactured by the HAL, has been accorded and a Request for Proposal (RFP) for 70 aircraft is almost ready to be released.