Fighter jets, spy planes, choppers, missiles in mega IAF list of desi projects worth over Rs 3 lakh crore

The list of weapon systems and platforms includes the 180 Light Combat Aircraft TEJAS Mk-1A, 156 Light Combat Helicopters, Light Utility Choppers and many other weapon systems which are supposed to form a large chunk of the service in coming times

The Indian Air Force is taking up some of the biggest indigenisation projects in defence sector as the force led by Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari is working on ‘Make in India’ programs worth over Rs 3.15 lakh crore.

The list of weapon systems and platforms includes the 180 TEJAS MK-1A, 156 Light Combat Helicopters, Light Utility Choppers and many other weapon systems which are supposed to form a large chunk of the service in coming times. The TEJAS MK-1A alone is supposed to be worth over Rs 1.2 lakh crore and is going to create a huge impact on developing a fighter aircraft manufacturing ecosystem in the domestic industry, senior defence officials told ANI.

The officials said the support towards building a major defence industry is key towards achieving a USD 5 trillion economy as envisaged by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Defence officials said as the ‘Aatmanirbharta’ programme of the defence forces takes wings, the agenda of the acquisition-related meetings is fast becoming ‘Indian in the true sense.

Giving details of the indigenous made-in-India projects, the officials said that the Air Force is getting 180 TEJAS MK-1A aircraft for which the first contract of 83 aircraft has already been signed while the project for the remaining 97 aircraft is set to get the Defence Ministry clearance soon. In the fighter aircraft domain, the Indian Air Force is taking up a major programme to upgrade the Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighter jet fleet under a Rs 65,000 crore project.

The project would be carried out indigenously by a joint team of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and the Indian Air Force with indigenous radars, avionics and weapons to be equipped on the plane. The project is being moved to the Defence Ministry and is expected to be discussed at a high level very soon.

The upgrade program would be carried out first with around 90 aircraft and would then be implemented on the remaining 160 plus aircraft gradually making them very close to fifth-generation capabilities in them. After addressing the development of the Airborne Early and Control Aircraft requirements through couple of indigenous plans, the Indian Air Force is also working on developing a spy plane that would be able to pick up entire enemy activity.

The Intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR) aircraft can equip the IAF with a potent instrument for gaining battlefield transparency and situational awareness. In terms of rotary wing capabilities, the Indian Air Force is going to get a big boost in terms of firepower and going to give a similar push to the domestic industry.

The IAF is the lead agency for acquiring 156 light combat helicopters for which the services are looking at spending around Rs 45,000 crore. The Indian Air Force would also be supporting the indigenous Light Utility Helicopter to replace the Cheetah/Chetak chopper fleet from the Air Force and the Army.

The Indian Air Force would also be supporting the ambitious Indian Multirole Helicopter programme being undertaken by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. The Defence Ministry recently cleared the Project Kusha of the Indian Air Force under which it is going to get five units of the Long Range Surface to Air Missile (LR-SAM) which would be similar to the capabilities of the Russian-origin S-400 air defence missile systems, three squadrons of which have already been inducted in the service.

The Project Kusha has been given approval for worth around Rs 21,700 crores and would be carried out by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) jointly with private and public sector industry. The Medium Range-Surface to Air Missile project has already been completed and a few missiles have already been inducted into the service. The project is worth Rs 14,500 crore.

The Indian Air Force is also awaiting final clearance for its over Rs 7500 core project for Close in Weapon Systems for protecting its critical assets and is being built by the private sector industry for it. The DRDO is also working to produce the ‘Pralay’ ballistic missiles which are going to be used by the IAF for use in conventional roles and warheads.

The Air Force has also inducted the C-295 transport aircraft which would be the first private sector joint venture to have been created for manufacturing transport aircraft for the Indian Air Force. The project would see a cash outgo of over Rs 22,000 crores which would see 40 plus aircraft getting manufactured within the country.

The Indian Air Force is also going to get the basic trainer aircraft in the HTT-40 being built by the HAL at a cost of Rs 6,100 crores.


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