Prime Minister Narendra Modi today became the first Indian PM to have flown in a sortie in the domestically produced TEJAS and described his experience as ‘memorable’
Modi was briefed about the production of the plane by its maker Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. Top officials of the Indian Air Force, including its chief, Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari, were present on the occasion.
HAL has been given a target of tripling its manufacturing speed to make 24 jets per year from 2027 onwards as the IAF needs some 300 TEJAS variants. Another 100 jets are needed by the Navy. As many as 126 fifth generation advance medium combat aircraft are also in the line – all proposed to be made by HAL.
The Ministry of Defence said: “HAL has established two production lines of TEJAS at Bangalore, which can produce up to 16 aircraft a year. Further, an additional production line is being established at HAL, Nasik, to take the production rate beyond 24 aircraft from 2024-25 onwards.” HAL is planning to advance the deliveries of current and future order of TEJAS. Sources said the HAL has , so far, shown capacity to build eight TEJAS per year.
The IAF has ordered 83 TEJAS MK-1A, and deliveries are scheduled to begin by February next year. The first version of the aircraft was inducted into the IAF in 2016. Currently, two squadrons of IAF — 45 Squadron and 18 Squadron — are fully operational with TEJAS.
More than Rs 9,000 crore has been sanctioned for the development of TEJAS MK-2, an updated and more lethal version. To further promote indigenisation, including of the aircraft engine, Transfer of Technology for manufacturing of the GE engine in India has been negotiated with GE during Prime Minister’s visit to the US in June 2023.
In the coming years, TEJAS would be the largest fleet of fighter aircraft to be operated by the Indian Air Force.
Meanwhile the sortie by Modi today was carried out from the Aircraft Systems Testing Establishment, Bengaluru. During the 30-minute sortie, capabilities of fighter aircraft TEJAS were demonstrated to the PM.
Keeping Up With IAF, Navy’s Growing Demand
The IAF needs 300 TEJAS variants. Another 100 jets are needed by the Navy. As many as 126 fifth generation advance medium combat aircraft are also in the line — all proposed to be made by HAL.