The Indian Air Force (IAF) is likely to sign a deal with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) for acquiring 83 Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) as negotiations over the price of the fighter jets are almost done, defence sources said here on Tuesday.
In December 2017, the IAF had issued a single-vendor tender to the HAL for procuring 83 LCA. However, the deal is yet to be signed owing to delay in negotiations over the price of the aircraft.
"The cost negotiating committee is almost finished with the price negotiations of the aircraft. Once it is done, IAF will enter into a deal with the HAL," a senior IAF official told IANS.
As per sources, the deal for 83 Tejas LCA, which are of the Mark 1A variant, is expected to cost the IAF in the range of Rs 45,000 crore. The aircraft will have improved serviceability, faster weapon-loading time, enhanced survivability, a better electronic warfare suite and Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar that will significantly enhance its capability.
The Centre for Military Airworthiness and Certification (CEMILAC) had provided the Final Operational Clearance to the Tejas LCA earlier this year, certifying it as a multi-role fighter with capabilities including beyond visual range air-to-air and air-to-ground attack capabilities as well as longer endurance through mid-air refuelling.
In a previous order, the IAF had signed a deal with the HAL for 40 Tejas LCAs. So far, around 18 LCAs have been delivered to the IAF from this order.
India, at present, has a shortfall of around 10-12 squadrons of fighter jets in its inventory even as the first four of the 36 Rafale multi-role aircraft are scheduled to arrive into the country by May next year. At the formal receiving ceremony of the first Rafale jet in France on Dussehra this year, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had said that the full consignment of 36 aircraft will arrive in India by the year 2022.
"India will receive the first 18 Rafale jets by February 2021. By April-May 2022 we will receive all 36 jets," Rajnath Singh had said.