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.