Page 8 - ScienceIndia Magazine March 2021
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         Above and right: Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas. A contract for 83 aircraft Tejas Mk1A was inked during the Aero India 2021
Tejas Mk1A (73 +10) was inked dur- ing the Aero India 2021. The contract signed is for Rs 48,000 crores which was brought down after negotiations from initial quote of Rs 59,000 crores. Ac- cording to the contract, the first aircraft delivery has to start from three years of the signing of contract and HAL is to hand over 16 aircrafts per year.
The first Tejas Mk1A has not flown yet but is likely to be ready by August 2022. If all goes well, all aircrafts will be delivered by 2025. After eliminating the flaws of MK1, Tejas will be compa- rable to any 4th generation fighter. The Mk1A’s indigenous component, consid- ering the cost factor, will be 59.7%, and according to number of replaceable lines, it will be 75.5% indigenous. It will have a speed of 1.6 Mach, it will be able to carry a payload of 5300 kgs, it will have an Air-to-Air refuelling capability, and it will have modern fly by wire control system so will have ease in operatability. Multi-mode radar, digital avionics and fully automatic digital turbo fan engine from General Electric will be a few other state-of-the-art equipment fitted.
There is no doubt that Tejas will be comparable to any modern 4th genera- tion combat aircraft and much advanced to MIG -21, which it will replace. Most important aspect for success of this project is timely delivery of the aircrafts along with stringent quality control. If these aspects are achieved, our depen- dance on other nations for fighter air- craft will reduce.
The LCA project is an ambitious one. After 34 Tejas MK1, contract of 83 Mk1A has been signed and thereafter, next upgrade — MkII — will be avail- able from 2026, followed by Advance Medium Combat aircraft in 2031.
For Atamanirbharta, and ‘Make for In- dia and Make for the World’, success of the Tejas project holds a great signifi- cance. The Tejas is not only a HAL proj- ect but for supply of spares and small sys- tem parts, some 500 SMEs and MSMEs have been engaged.
The success of this project will not only bring in a new confidence in the production units like HAL, ADA and ARDC but will also boost the confidence of the user, that is the IAF. However, our past record of indigenous products
is not very encouraging, which needs to be altered. The production timelines will have to be met without compromising on quality, cost will have to be kept com- petitive, and post-sale servicing facili- ties will have to be set up along with the availability of spares.
The present government has put all eggs in one basket but is taking keen interest in making it successful. It has given ultimatum to the PSUs to ‘Perform or perish’. Unless Tejas combat worthi- ness is proven in India, other countries will not have confidence in procuring it. Once Tejas proves its combat effec- tiveness in India, it will open doors for aviation-related exports and will earn foreign exchange for the country. ‘Make for India’, that is becoming Atamanirb- har, has been successful, now ‘Make for the World’ is the next big step.
*The writer is an Ati Vishisht Seva Medal and Shaurya Chakra awardee and retired as SAASO from Mainte-
nance Command, Nagpur in 2017. He landed Antonov An-32 aircraft on High Altitude Advanced Landing Grounds (HAALGs) in Daulat Beg Oldi, Fukche and Nyoma.
  The Tejas is not only a HAL project, it has also engaged 500 SMEs and MSMEs for spares and small system parts
 8 SCIENCE INDIA
MARCH, 2021
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