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New Delhi orders 83 HAL Tejas light combat aircraft
November 17, 2017
A Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Tejas lightweight multi-role fighter. Photo credit: Government of India

New Delhi orders 83 HAL Tejas light combat aircraft

The Government of India has recently issued an order for 83 Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Tejas lightweight multi-role fighters, 15 HAL Light Combat Helicopters (LCH), and 494 T-90 main battle tanks.

The total value of the acquisition will amount to roughly $10 billion U.S. (Rs. 67,000 crore). NDTV reported that the HAL Tejas order will cost $7.5 billion, the T-90s will cost $2.02 billion, and the LCHs $436 million.

Notes and Comments:

This is the Indian Air Force (IAF)’s first major Tejas order from HAL. The Tejas was envisaged to replace the IAF’s legacy MiG-21bis fleet, though program delays (owing to technical issues and IAF revisions in terms of projected requirements) kept the Bison fleet in use longer than what the IAF may have intended.

In October, the Indian Ministry of Defence also began approaching numerous overseas vendors over the prospect of replacing the IAF’s MiG-21s. Considering that the Tejas program is moving ahead, it seems that the IAF is seeking to build a “hi/lo” mix within the single engine segment.

The Tejas could serve as a lightweight defensive asset in tandem with a medium-weight fighter, which could alternate between offensive and defensive tasks.

  • GhalibKabir

    Need to revise my thoughts in the light of new developments

    1. Tejas: Looks like Parrikar has ‘reviewed’/realistically decided(with the Cobham refueling pod, Elta AESA and BVR capacity becoming possible,) the local ecosystem can make and sustain a fleet of 120 odd tejas fighters with some room for a Naval Tejas (50 odd?)

    => the Mk1A Mk2 and Naval LCA might become/has become a single program with possibly Safran-Kaveri getting used at a later stage (may be last 50-60 tejas off the line)

    ==> Another Big Implication: In the Radar vs Engine priority, Engines seem to have won out for now if Parrikar’s thinking is any hint…

    2. Dovetail with the F-16 Block 8x and F-35: The newer block of F-16 (my guess 3 SQ or 54 planes off the shelf and 90 odd Make in India through 2025-6) followed by 3-4 Squadrons of F-35 off the shelf around 2019 (depending on J-20 perceptions and FGFA progress)

    AND CISMOA and BECA will get signed too…

    Advantage: the GE 414 and possibly related GE-11x Engine line possibly in India.

    Disadvantage: Engine development might not come through as easily (GE/Safran won’t be inclined to help so much) while Radar development indigenously will still depend on Thales co-operating or ELTA helping out.

    Goodies for Russia: 2-3 squadrons of Su-35 (to avoid Putin painting them in PAF Green) along with Sukhoi upgrade deal & FGFA buy besides the usual Heli deals and sub deals… (Sigh!) —. it seems Uncle Putin hinted Modi to look at Su-35 off shelf deal at BRICS…(Sigh)

    Goodies for France: Additional potential 36 rafale order depending on emerging fighter mix and near certain selection of Barracuda derivative for Project 75i sub to dove tail with Indian SSN program.

    So a 2030 IAF might very well look like

    1. Russian Jets: 325 odd Su-30/35, 20 odd FGFA, 40-50 MiG 29 and some later MiG 27s

    2. French-UK Jets: 70 odd Rafale, 40-50 Mirage 2000 and some 50 Jaguars

    3. US Jets: 100 odd F-16, 20-30 F-35 (assuming FGFA remains a cluster f*ck–> i think so)

    4. Local Made: 100-150 Tejas, (may be some prototype AMCA)

    With some left over older planes this should give at least a 770-800 jet or 42-44 Squadron IAF…(excl. Transports and Helis etc.)

    Apparently the recent developments have forced Parrikar to have a good look at the SABR fitted latest iteration F-16….

    The biggest loser is the Gripen E (no radar of their own and Engine, sensors from America) –> Sadly I would have preferred this modular sleek jet instead of the Viper.

    • Smoking a Tejas

      God, I’d hate to be the logistic noob looking after this zoo. ? And I can see the logistics and parts department gibbering and making warding signs.

      • GhalibKabir

        Well, yes it will not be very different from what it is now. on a humourous note, the IAF will be a reflection of India itself, “very diverse and somewhat crazy” 😉

        • The IAF may have difficulty, but if the ‘Make in India’ stuff pays off to a substantial degree, then the overall supply network should be able to cope. It would be up to the IAF to demarcate its diverse fleet in ways that are closely linked (administratively) to physical support and manufacturing centres. Maybe viewing India as ‘multiple states with tiny air forces’ could be an approach.

          • GhalibKabir

            That is a good observation Bilal. My ‘off the shelf’ buys point is made precisely owing to this supply network issue. It seems Parrikar has accorded to priority to developing tier 2 and 3 suppliers as quickly as possible. The reason being is that it seems HAL can max produce half a squadron of Tejas per year, because, the supply vendor ecosystem is not deeper/wider. Hence the > 100 off the shelf buy on a priority basis…

            The hint I take away is that at long last a Defense Minister is thinking on the lines of linking the supply ecosystem and aircraft platforms and related distribution in an integrated fashion… some of the thought balloons out of Delhi seem to suggest regional hubs for different jets such as F-16 and F-35 hub in Nagpur, Central India, and regional positioning of jets by country of origin across bases for better spare parts management etc…

          • Smoking a Tejas

            Makes for a good academic discussion. but in real terms, do you really see approximately 6 to 7 different platforms of varying technological complexity being manufactured and supported effectively by the existing industrial and technical base as fielded by india? I still haven’t seen the relevant management acumen, let alone gains from tech and industrial research channeling down to manufacturing despite the billions sunk into the Indian defence sector over decades.

            Consequently, their ability to absorb and assimilate the relevant know how is iffy even in the medium term considering no one knows the life expectancy of the current Government and its ambitions. And let’s not even talk on how arduous and long drawn negotiations are on ToT, just look at the Rafale,

          • GhalibKabir

            Actually I will posit the exact opposite.

            India already license manufactures 6-7 types of aircraft and engines ranging from the Su 30, MiG 27, MiG 21 and Jaguar. The complexity you suggest has been a reality since the late 1970s. A combination of not investing in human capital adequate to absorb the tech and by nurturing the engineering side of things esp tier 2 and 3 manufacture has what has stalled the science—>tech–>engineering chain that completes the technology absorption and learning cycle.

            Examples abound, the type 209 submarine tot was fully wasted by the idiots in the mod ditto with bofors guns and the barak 8 was the latest pigs breakfast in progress when Modi/Parrikar whipped some butts to get the installation going.

            The problem has always had 2 parts one the not parting with tot part but th bigger issue is India not investing in absorbing tech adequately. Esp for the IN variable depth towed array sonars, more corvettes frigates and defense systems and helicopters are needed urgently… But the bureaucrats being India’s worst enemy prolong things too much without solving

          • MT

            Thanks god. OFB managed to get 90% IP of bofors gun:)
            Barak-8 is israeli product(radar,seeker,flight control) with Indian engine,actuators. the only gain will be in assembly of frame where we get to know the exact inlet,fins design which can be used to replicate our own if only if DRDO can produce state of art Barak8 Software based Radar, flight control system:)

            U209 program was crippled bcoz of corruption allegations but thanks to russians who allowed us learn/master conventional submarine design/development of kilo class which although took 1+decade & came at big cost (recv by russians as part of deal)

            Those development/refurbishment opportunity of Kilo class helped L&T & many tier2-3 company build submarine systems

          • GhalibKabir

            U209 corruption was orchestrated by the soviets to arm twist Rajiv Gandhi to give them a sub deal. HDW gave us good tot, kickbacks or not, tech should have been a priority… The Indian civil servant remains the worst enemy of the forces… I don’t understand this Indian pontification about kickbacks… It would be good thing if practiced well and applied properly. Mostly it is cosmetic crap that is meaningless. Indian procurement cluster f*ck is the best friend an enemy can have. It is only after Parrikar giving a kick up the OFB ass that the upgraded Bofors guns are rolling out..

            It is screwing us at the wrong time when barak 8, towed variable depth sonars, torpedoes are so sorely needed along with 15-20 more frigates corvettes and 10 large destroyers besides 12-15 new SSK subs and ASW copters…we are not even talking about other key stuff like SOSUS… Given the menance PLAN is becoming…we should have doing this back in 2005…we would have been even better…

            The IA cluster f*ck is epitomized by the lack of any new wheeled self propelled artillery and new towed artillery… Thankfully the FMS route helped us with the M777 and Thunder K9, else that would have been hell too.

          • Smoking a Tejas

            Considering how the IAF has struggled with the maintenance and logistics of these 7 platforms, just consider the complexity of the new platforms and magnify the challenge exponentially. Most of the planes are falling apart while others have struggled with even decent upgrades. So I’m not sure you’re contradicting my premise.

            On the other front I’m not clear what you mean that india didn’t invest in absorbing tech? Are we talking management and concept fusion or simply manufacturing and quality issues?

          • GhalibKabir

            Need to be a bit careful here to get the right answer. the crashes happened when the IAF was forced to accept substandard East Europe made spare parts for esp. MiG 21. The MiG-27 re-build is one of HAL’s decent success stories and as you might have seen, the crash stats are much more inline with normal usage.

            Exponentially is a word that is loaded and pre-supposes quite a bit. As I said the reality on the ground is while HAL has a lot to catch up on, it has had its fair share of decent work such as the MiG-27, Su-30, MiG-29, Jaguar manufacture and upgrade.

            By absorbing I refer to the fact that Indian planners did not absorb the Soviet concept of dedicated design bureaus backed by a manufacturer. So the problem was and has been that similar to the HDW fiasco in the navy in the 80s, the IAF and Army did not ensure ToT lessons converted adequately into progress on the learning curve. Instead we got a mess with HAL becoming like a bad version of a local car assembler in some respects. Quality and Management issues are also there but are secondary as the primary objective of tech absorption ensuring improvement on the science and engineering curve (critical as Design Science links to Manufacturing Engineering with ToT as an enabling path).

            The short version is HAL grew from being a line mechanic to some one like a Chief Mechanic with some engineer like abilities, whereas true manufacturing independence will only happen when it graduates to full engineer ie become a combo of UAC and Irkutsk which it is not now.

          • Smoking a Tejas

            In my opinion, having multiple platforms of similar capability operating in numbers is not very efficient and its effectiveness is dependent on availability.Just look at the mess the German tank industry got itself into trying to operationalize multiple tank platform simultaneously. In the end, they couldn’t keep them serviced or even on the assembly line. And the Indians are still short of that level of industrial and manufacturing excellence. Now you could argue that any skirmish will be short between the two countries but I don’t think anyone is willing to bet the bank on it these days. And I’m pretty sure, the SU 35, Rafale and Tejas are far advanced to the simple Mig platforms you’ve referred to. Not to mention the struggles of the IAF in getting its Jaguar upgrades of the ground.

    • tyler durden

      no more su-30,rafales order.coz no money. FGFA deal will certainly collapse coz IAF not interested. only addition would be Make In India fighter and if F-16 is chosen as MII fighter then i m sure LM 5th gen F35 would be next instead of FGFA

      • GhalibKabir

        Su-35: it is question of geopolitical need and if Putin has directly asked, the money shall be found if necessary. Any way a 40 jet extra order was due.
        FGFA: The IAF is not interested in many things incl. Tejas, FGFA vs F-35 will be a call the DM will take when work progress esp. Izdeliye 30 engine development and stealth features show satisfactory progress. IAF internal politics and goal post moving on the Tejas is well known….so I will take their moping and moaning with a pinch of salt.
        F-16 as MII: it has the best chance of being the MII jet with engine related spin offs (not TOT)
        F-35: the J-20 and the threat perception based on the same will be a key driver of the number of F-35 inducted.

        The US might get more lucrative deals like more F-35s incl for INS Vishal if other issues such as the NSG membership get pushed aggressively under HRC/Trump (they have not pushed China till now considering the NPT violating KANUPP 3,4 deals recently & general scummy behavior by beijing)

  • kash

    $7.5 billion for 83 tejas…$90 million a piece!!

    • MT

      It also takes inflation into account as final delivery day is 2028 (2030 if orders go up).

      50 mill$ flyway cost 40 mill $development cost which will augment future aeronautical research for AMCA,5th gen technologies

      • kash

        do u have evidence for this breakup?
        will it take till 2030 for HAL to produce 83 fighters??????!!!!!!

        • MT

          Orders till 2030 will go up to 100-120 with naval orders to come up next year once their SP version is released

          • kash

            sounds more like wishful thinking than a fact…news simply states 7.5 billion for 83 planes…period!!

          • MT

            Naval tejas is still under development.likely to get orders of 40-50 planes

            source from diplomat todays article on naval tejas
            The domestically designed and produced Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), next to being deployed aboard the INS Vikrant, India’s first indigenously built aircraft carrier, is also slated to serve on the INS Vishal, according to Indian Navy officials. Two naval prototypes of the Tejas LCA successfully conducted test flights from a so-called Shore Based Test Facility—a full-scale model of an aircraft carrier deck—in Goa earlier in the year. Nevertheless, senior Indian defense officials have repeatedly stated that the Indian Navy’s naval combat aviation requirements cannot be covered by domestic production.

          • kash

            not true!!..order is for airforce only

          • MT

            Orders are as follow
            1. 20 IOC/SP1-20 Tejas- ordered in 2006
            2. 20 FOC Tejas – ordered in 2010
            3. 83 Tejas MK1-A- ordered in Nov,2016
            4. 40 Tejas MK1 -A Naval- ordered in Nov,2016

            Source: “The Ministry of Defense recently approved the acquisition of 40 Tejas’ for the IN and 83 for the Indian Air Force.”

            My comments

            1. Two naval prototypes of the Tejas LCA successfully conducted test flights from a so-called Shore Based Test Facility—a full-scale model of an aircraft carrier deck—in Goa earlier in the year.
            2. The next test scheduled for tejas naval will be carried out from INS vikramaditya in 2017

          • kash
          • MT

            Orders in India are carried out in 3stage.
            1. Sanction committee- Preliminary orders
            2. Mod- Main order
            3. Financial allocation- Release

            Naval orders are in stage 1 while IAF orders are in stage2.
            Money will be only released after Tejas Naval aircraft take off/land from INS vikramaditya/aircraft carrier as they had already taken off/landed on 200 meter shore based facility in goa.

            source: “The Naval variant of Tejas successfully completed testing in Goa during which the short take off (200 meter) from Shore Based Test Facility were carried out along with hot refueling. The flight test from aircraft carrier is scheduled for 2017

          • kash

            where does it say it that naval tejas are also covered in the 7.5 billion order??…ur argument is baseless

  • nob hamid gul

    90 million 36K and 144.58 American Dollar per Unit of Tejas.

    • MT

      This will be expected price at 2030 takig in mind R&D/manufacutirng to continue from 2021 to 2030, the time Tejas MK1A will be set for manufacturing. So they account 7% inflation/yearly

      The flyway cost of Tejas Aesa will be around 50 mill $ other funds will be used to buy,develop and create 4+gen technology.

      In lumpsome, 90 mill$ is
      = cost to development + manufacturing+ building another factory + buy Israeli aesa E/L-M 2052 radar tech(deal between HAL and Elta Israel)

      Assume JF17 block 3 cost Pakistan 50 mill$ a piece but in reality pakistan doesnt hold any significant IP of JF17. if pak decided to develop 4.5 gen aircraft then it will again need to invest on local R&D from scratch

  • GG

    is it not cheaper to buy from Russia than to buy from HAL…?

    • AMAN

      Yes brother A latest Mig-35 would cost only half of Tejas !!!
      45 million $ vs 90 million $

      • Som

        Do u remember that MOD payed 222$million per RAFALE. It is not only the cost of aircraft.

      • MT

        Su30MKI cost 70 mill$ now. Dont read too much into the price offered by companies. Their prices are atleast 50% less that what it turn out to be in actuality

        Pak selling JF17 for 35 mill$ each.

        • AMAN

          So how did Egypt ordered such large weaponry in 5 billion $
          1- KA-52 Aligator 46 units worth 1 billion $
          2- Mig-35 – 50 units
          3- S-300vm
          4- 9K37 Buk missile system

          And you are spending 7.5 billion $ for alone Tejas !!!!!

          • MT

            Don’t be deceived by alleged mou nd orders until final money is allocated
            mig35 will always cost more than su30.

          • Saptarshi Dasgupta

            Aman brother it is the total cost including weapons, spares for 10 years and host of other things.
            This version of Tejas comes with EL/M-2052 AESA, DERBY-ER BVRAAM, PYTHON-5 missiles, Israeli PAWS missile warning system,Soice Guided bombs and many more. It is the total system cost. Pakistan’s 8 F-16 deal was supposed to be for 660 million dollar for over all systems and weapons and spares. Flyby cost o Tejas-MK1A is around 30-35 million dollar.

  • Rahul Patil Pune

    It’s a good jet. The money will help DRDO improve upon existing version of LCA Tejas whilst helping fill the gap in Indian Air force’s inventory

  • kash

    lol

  • Dodo

    LCA Tejas is so expensive! Price for one can buy near 4 JF-17 yet JF-17 meet design spec. but Tejas failed to even meet its own spec.. For instance, its low latitude speed is far less than 1.02 MHz spec. IAF rejected Tejas but Modi government forces them to buy.

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